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Youth projects require adult leadership

We all may need to find the child inside if we want to give real kids the opportunity to get outside and have fun.

Two projects in the city of Ironton — one driven by the city administration and another spearheaded by a grassroots civic organization — could have a tremendous impact on the community and provide many youth with something positive and fun to do.

But the community will have to step up first.

The Ironton Skate Park and the Friends of Ironton’s SprayGround project each would add much for the youth of this region, but both are in dire need of financial — and maybe some word-of-mouth — support.

Take the need for jobs off the table. Then ask 20 people what they think the biggest problem facing Lawrence County is. Past samples have shown that a significant percentage will say there isn’t enough activities for youth.

Well, here’s your chance to change that.

The skate park project will utilize space in Etna Street Park and will offer a very low-maintenance, highly durable place for youth to skate and rollerblade.

Some argue that not every kid skateboards so this shouldn’t be considered a priority project. But not every kid likes basketball or playgrounds either but that doesn’t stop us from building those.

The reality is a large percentage of our youth do enjoy skating and they deserve a place to call their own and an opportunity to have a place to do so safely.

Some say that skateboarders cause trouble or that the activity leads youth down a bad road. That is ludicrous.

Skateboarders are kids like any others. Some are “good” kids. Others are “bad” kids. Overall they are simply kids that will make good and bad decisions in their lives.

Having spent a fair amount of my formative years wheeling around on a board, I can tell you that the stereotypes simply aren’t true.

A little closer to downtown, the Friends of Ironton are working to build a SprayGround, a water-based playground that features a variety of sprays, jets and water activities.

Best of all? It would be free for children to visit.

Recently, we took my 16-month-old to an indoor waterpark in Cincinnati. She absolutely loved the type of things the Friends would be building. That type of enjoyment could be right here in Ironton.

Now is the time to help make sure this project keeps flowing.

The Friends shouldn’t have to foot the bill for this project on their own.

Anyone who wants to help with either project can contact the city or a Friends member.

If we can agree that we need more family-oriented activities for our children, we have to understand that it will start with the adults making a difference first.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.