• 43°

Park Project provides constructive play

Despite some high temperatures, basketball games continued in the Ninth Street Park Wednesday as part of the Ninth Street Park Project.

Forty kids, ranging from ages 9 to 12, participated.

The Ninth Street Park Project is funded through the Lawrence County Appalachian Family & Children First Council and coordinated by Family Guidance Center in partnership with the Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority, Lawrence County Juvenile Court, Neighbors Plus and the city of Ironton.

The goal is to give children something constructive to do while keeping them away from the lure of drugs. The Family Guidance Center had a month of daily activities including baseball, arts, a community week that deals with health and safety issues, and finally basketball.

The kids’ reasons for being there were pretty simple.

“I just wanted to play basketball,” said Isaiah Brickey, of Ironton.

“My mom didn’t want me sitting in front of the X-Box all day,” said Caleb Martin, of Russell, Ky. “So she makes me come to all types of camps.”

“I came for the exercise and my friends are down here,” said Jacob Gullet, of Coal Grove.

Nathan Lewis, an instructional basketball coach, volunteered to teach the game’s fundamentals.

“They called me and asked me to put on the camp and I said I would,” said Lewis, who lives in South Point but grew up in Ironton. He thinks the camp is a great idea. You get the community involved, the kids get out of the house and this helps them have a fun summer.”

He said what he likes is that all the kids were getting along.

“There have been some disagreements, but the youth counselors handled it pretty quick,” Lewis said.

What he would like to see is the program expand to cover all the communities in Ironton.

“I like that idea, the kids need something to do,” he said. “When I was growing up, they hired summer help and had different sports and arts programs at the elementary schools. I would love to see that again.”

The Family Guidance Center started in 1969 as a drug and alcohol program. Part of its aim is prevention and getting school-aged children away from negative influences.

“This is the perfect fit,” said John Goodwin, a prevention specialist with the Lawrence County Community Action Organization-Family Guidance Center. “For the month of June we had a pretty good turnout. We want to bring positive activities in the parks again.”

The month-long program was developed after studies showed that kids in their pre-teen years were at a high risk for alcohol and drug use.

“One of the strategies of our plan is to increase the number of community assets available in support of positive youth development,” said Joyce Lynd, a project facilitator for Lawrence County Juvenile Court. “The Neighbors Plus group was a good fit for our strategic plan based on the current activity of their group taking an active stand against substance abuse in their neighborhood.

As a result, we were able to partner with the other referenced agencies to develop and implement the Ninth Street Park Project.”