The $50,000 grant will fund a playground, basketball courts and a softball-soccer field.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngsters at the Boys & amp; Girls Club of Youngstown will be swinging and sliding on new playground equipment and slam-dunking on updated basketball courts after newly planned spring renovations.
The improvements will be made to the playground next to the club building on Oak Hill Avenue with a $50,000 grant from the Abe and Leona M. Adler Charitable Trust.
The grant will bring the club one step closer to its "Field of Dreams" vision and help children make better use of land that is considered one of the club's assets, said Bill Russell, president of the club's board of directors. The playground will offer additional safe areas for kids to play.
"When the weather's nice, they can get outside and blow off steam and have a good time," Russell said. "Anytime we can get kids outside and enjoying the outdoors, it's got to be a good thing for the kids."
Russell said children use the outdoor play area, formerly the city's Kyle Park, but it has not achieved its full potential. He said the playground area would be designated "The Abe and Leona M. Adler Playground."
The $50,000 grant will be used for new play equipment and to clear a grove for the equipment. It will also provide funds to resurface basketball courts and install new basketball posts, backboards and hoops and to clean up a soccer-softball playing field.
Long-range plans include the addition of tennis courts and a pavilion. They will not be built with money from the present grant.
Club membership: Boys & amp; Girls Club of Youngstown has about 1,100 members, each day serving 100 to 125 youth between the ages of 6 and 18. Youngsters attend the facility between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Russell said the club, founded 32 years ago, is a safe after-school spot for many kids from single-parent homes while parents are at work. Russell said 70 percent of the kids are from single-parent homes. Nearly as many live at or near the poverty level, club statistics show.
Recreation: Russell said the club offers recreation, with a gymnasium, pool tables, table tennis, table soccer and air hockey.
Youth are also given homework help and tutoring, and the club plans to open a computer/Internet lab by February. Youngsters receive a hot meal during their stay, and teen-agers have their own place.
Other programs focus on life skills, character and leadership, the arts and career development. Students also venture into the community during club-sponsored activities and trips.