It’s a complaint uttered frequently in Forest Park and those who are in a position to do something about it said they too, hear it all the time. But after representatives from the municipal Youth Commission, the Park District and the Howard Mohr Community Center eyed their offerings, they’re admittedly a bit stumped over the lament that there’s nothing for kids to do.
“I was a bit confused by it,” Youth Commission member Rachell Entler said. “I have worked at the Park District and worked at the community center and been to the library with my own kids and never really felt that there weren’t enough things to do.”
After being appointed to the advisory board in November, one of the first tasks Entler was given was to compile a calendar that lists every kid-oriented event for every day of the year. Between the different entities in town that offer such activities, Entler said she didn’t have enough room on her spreadsheet to jot everything down.
With evidence of plenty to do, the organizations are taking another look at their offerings to try and gauge their appeal. On Thursday, July 10 the Park District is hosting a free event to kickoff an experimental series that may give the adults a better sense of what’s cool – and what’s not.
“I think our biggest challenge is with teens,” said Mayor Anthony Calderone, who also acknowledged having heard the whine of boredom.
From 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. kids of all ages can try their hand at golf, ultimate Frisbee, wiffle ball, tennis, volleyball, flag football and the beanbag toss. Then, over the course of eight more dates in July and August, kids can return to the Park District on Harrison Street and play one of those particular games for two hours. Josh Enos, the recreation supervisor for the Park District, said his office is hoping the events help make more people aware of what’s available, and provide feedback as to what is popular.
“We’re trying to work with the community center and the library, too,” Enos said.
In appealing to the teenage crowd, Enos said the recent introduction of ultimate Frisbee has been quite successful. Flag football is usually a big draw as well, he said. Golf lessons and volleyball games have proven to be less popular with kids in town, according to Enos, but adults have shown an interest.
In addition to attempting to understand which activities kids may take a shine to, Entler said the Youth Commission is also hoping the summer series will introduce children to activities they may not have considered. Word of mouth seems to be fairly effective in alerting children to fun activities, she said, but has its limitations.
“Basically what we want to do is allow the kids to try out for things they haven’t tried before,” Entler said.