We Are Warren: In survey, community says it wants swimming, financial literacy

By Ed Runyan



A survey of Warren students and parents showed a great desire for swimming, greater use of school recreational facilities and the need for financial literacy education.

The survey results, released to the public Thursday at Warren G. Harding High School, are part of a Wean Foundation-funded project called We Are Warren that is trying to bring back more recreational and educational opportunities to Warren children.

Deryk Toles, founder and executive director of Inspiring Minds, a nonprofit organization that encourages achievement among Warren youths, said the project already has put three new recreational programs in motion.

The Harding High School basketball program and Inspiring Minds employee Keelyn Franklin organized a basketball league for children in grades four to six just after the December kickoff for We Are Warren, and its championship game will be played this weekend, Toles said.

Warren students and parents also applied for four Wean Foundation grants to start up recreational programs, and two of them have been funded so far — one for a youth flag-football program and one for a youth volleyball program.

Harding students are running both programs, which are in the process of finding coaches and signing up children.

Two other proposals were for a Palmyra Heights revitalization arts project and a youth entrepreneur program, Toles said.

Jackson/Clark Partners, the consultants working on the project, will use the data collected from the approximately 600 responses to create a strategic plan that will be released in about a month.

It was important that the project use data to guide decisions about recreational and educational programs to be brought back to the city “rather than based on emotions,” Toles said.

As an example, the survey showed that the majority of people would like to see swimming in the city again — something that existed at the Packard Pool near Packard Music Hall before the pool was demolished.

“We’re saying, ‘We want to go swimming,’” Toles said of survey respondents. “Now we have to figure out how do we provide more swimming. The survey could put more pressure on the public to say, ‘Maybe we do need to have a public pool.’”

Harding Athletic Director Paul Trina said in December that Warren children benefited from a popular recreation and arts program in the 1970s that was run by the city, the schools and school art teacher James Friend.

It was halted in 1988 because of budget cuts.

The largest percentage of students responding to the survey attend the high school (53 percent). Thirty-five percent of the respondents attend schools other than Warren city schools. Two percent attend the two Diocese of Youngstown schools.

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