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Local parks department provides childcare services during strike

By Staff | Mar 9, 2018

Toni Milbourne/Chronicle Kids gather at Sam Michael's Park for one of the day camps provided by county Parks and Recreation during the recent teachers’ work stoppage.

The local parks and recreation departments worked to provide an option for childcare as parents were faced with school closures during the nine-day teachers’ strike.

Jefferson County Parks and Recreation stepped up to provide daily low-cost camps for students while schools were closed.

“We partnered with Ranson Parks and Recreation to offer the camps at the Ranson Civic Center, as well as at the Jefferson County Community Center at Sam Michael’s Park,” said Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Myers. “We knew that the community center would not be a large enough location to handle the number of children, so the partnership with Ranson was ideal.”

Camps were structured similarly to the Parks and Recreation summer day camps, offering a variety of sports, games, crafts and movies. The camps were staffed with JCPRC staff members and teacher volunteers, Myers said.

“Over the course of the two weeks, over 30 teachers stopped in to read, play games, face paint, do science projects and help with crafts,” Myers said. “Many of the teachers even brought ‘props’ with them to make the experiences more educational and meaningful.”

Once word spread that JCPRC was offering the camps, registration was quick to fill.

“We averaged between 60-65 kids per day and had as many as 82 on the final day of camp,” Myers said.

Many local businesses reached out to work with the Parks department to provide food for the campers. Amont those who donated were Chick-Fil-A, Pizza City, Subway at Potomac Towne Center and Ranson Parks and Recreation. Also providing snacks and food items was 4-State Real Estate LLC and the school bus drivers who dropped snacks daily.

“Parents reached out as well to help each other and provided snacks for the kids. Some even offered lunches for all the campers if the strike continued,” Myers said.

The department offered the camps at a reduced cost to make the option affordable for parents throughout the county.

“We had many donors who contributed to our ‘Send a Kid to Camp’ scholarship fund which allowed many of the campers to attend free or at a reduced cost,” Myers said. She added that any funds not expended during the camps over the past two weeks will be added to the summer camp scholarship fund, which allows kids to attend those summer camps free or at reduced costs as well.

“We are so proud of our department, our county, our volunteers and our kids,” Myers said at the end of the teacher strike.

“JCPRC saw a need and we stepped up to help the community to keep the kids active and provide a safe place for them to go,” she said. “Jefferson County is certainly a perfect place to grow.”