City offers alternative to video games, inside

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Counselors from left at center, Airrica Bowman and Claudette Gilman, both 17, and Jessica Chiles, 5, help the girls to a victory over the boys during a game of tug of war Tuesday at the playground on Marian Lane in Wildwood Subdivision.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[06/12/02]In an effort to give Vicksburg children an alternative to video games and television this summer, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department is sponsoring a playground camp program at area parks.

The camps will be at eight city parks this summer, a different playground each week, and are providing supervised sports, activities and crafts. Sessions will be free and open to children ages 6 to 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

“This will give kids something to do other than play Nintendo,” said Craig Upton, department head.

The program officially kicked off last week at City Park on Lee Street where about 30 children a day participated. This week, it is in the Wildwood Subdivision at the park on Marian Lane.

Upton said that it has been more than 20 years since Vicksburg paid to have coaches or other adults as monitors or events coordinators at city parks. He said that if the program is successful this year, it may be expanded next summer to other city playgrounds.

There are 15 playgrounds in the city.

The city has purchased about $1,400 in equipment for the program and will spend about $300 to provide children with drinks.

“We’re really just playing with the kids,” Upton said.

David Gibson lives across the street from the playground on Marian Lane and is the vice president of the Wildwood Neighborhood Association. He said he has been asking city officials to start a program like this at neighborhood parks for years.

“We used to have this 25 years ago when my kids grew up out here,” Gibson said.

He said that turnout at the park had been good this week and has included children from surrounding areas. Upton said the camps are not limited to kids in those neighborhoods.

“It’s good for the kids,” Gibson said. “They’ve got to have something to do to keep out of trouble.”

Activities for the children are being supervised by the assistant director of parks and recreation and about nine summer youth workers with the city. The youth workers, high school and college students, are paid minimum wage, about $100 a week each.