Recreate Baltimore: Providing Quality Recreation for All Neighborhoods

Last year, BUILD youth leaders visited a $13 million state of the art recreation center in Baltimore County which includes an indoor pool, indoor track, basketball courts, computer lab, a multi-purpose room large enough to accommodate performances, dance and music rehearsals, and numerous classrooms for activities such as martial arts. Most striking was the response of the student leaders; they challenged each other to sprints around the track, started pick-up basketball games, and one disappeared, only to be found enthralled at a jazz rehearsal in a room nearby. Another — a seasoned dancer — taught steps to a young bystander.

That center stands in stark contrast to the situation in the city. BUILD youth leaders, who spent the summer canvassing city neighborhoods on the rec center issue and rallied at the Inner Harbor to press the issue with the Mayor and City Council, lament the fact that money can be found to expand juvenile centers, yet closed recreation centers are common in the city. But, said one leader, Brian, “nothing comes about by complaining.” To that end, youth leaders demanded and won a role in shaping the design of a new center in Lake Clifton. They rejoice that the state has delivered its share of $1.2 million to the city. Building is expected to begin in late 2010.

Roland, who walks by the site with his brother Rashad each day, said the trip to the county center was inspiring. “Anyone can build a recreation center but we know what an excellent recreation center looks like,” he said. BUILD and its youth leaders will continue the fight for adequate funding and stand for recreation centers, a goal that ensures every neighborhood has a place for positive social interaction for youth.

BUILD continues to work with the City to help develop a strategy that will provide recreation to all neighborhoods and is calling for developing 55 quality centers.

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