By Denise Dick
An extracurricular sports program for city elementary school students kicks off Saturday with a Let’s Move Block Party.
Kathy Hammond, president and CEO of Finer Things Academy, which is running the sports program for the district, said the event is a take-off of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative aimed at fostering a healthy lifestyle through exercise and proper eating. The block party runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on East Federal Street downtown.
There is no charge, although healthful boxed lunches will be for sale at Joe Max Coffee.
The sports program for third- through sixth-graders begins this fall with girls’ volleyball.
The district is starting the sports program to foster a sense of community among elementary schools.
“It will expand as the year goes on through each of the seasons,” said Doug Hiscox, Youngstown schools deputy superintendent for academic affairs.
Hammond said plans call for boys and girls basketball in the winter and track and field in the spring, with the idea of softball and baseball being discussed.
Each elementary school will have a team and Hammond hopes for 20 students per team per school or a couple hundred students involved for the year.
“It’s my passion,” she said. “I love it.”
Organizers already have a list of interested students collected last school year, and those families will be contacted soon. To make the program succeed, parents and other adults have to get involved, too.
Information and sign-ups will be at all schools when the academic year starts.
Fundraisers will be conducted throughout the year, and parents will be expected to pitch in.
“When the district had seven high schools, we had boosters and the community was involved,” Hammond said.
They’re trying to revive that spirit.
“We want the community to get back involved in the school system,” she said. “The only way the city schools are going to progress is to get parents — and other adults — back involved.”