“We’re thrilled to offer the Summer Playground Program again this summer,” Julia Ciesla-Hanley told a Jamestown parent recently. “Ever since the 1960s Jamestown has given parents an alternative to their children’s housebound television viewing and, more recently, an endless diet of video games and other distractions of modern technology.” Ciesla-Hanley is Jamestown’s Recreation Coordinator. “The program is specially designed for children between 5 and 13 years old.”
“Summertime is a great time for children to get out into the great outdoors, especially if it’s in a city park or a supervised playground, play with other children, learn about sportsmanship, arts and crafts and everything else that makes sunshine and fresh air so good for them,” Ciesla-Hanley said. “It can give parents a welcome break too,” she added.
Six playground locations around Jamestown make up the Summer Playground Program this year; Allen Park, Fletcher Elementary School, Johnson Street Tot Lot, Lillian Dickson Tot Lot, Lincoln Elementary School and Ring Elementary School. The playgrounds will be staffed by college-aged city residents, many of whom have already set their sights on careers in education. Parents will be assured of their presence by looking for their bright, lime green vests.
Sarah Mott, a Jamestown resident, has worked for the Playground Program for six years and knows how to give children the best possible summertime experience. This year she will serve as the Playground Program Coordinator. Mott is a Jamestown Community College graduate, having earned an Associate’s Degree there in Childhood Education, and is currently working toward her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at SUNY Fredonia. Sarah loves children and the outdoors, a perfect match for Jamestown’s Summer Playground Program.
The Program, as always, is free of charge. This year’s program, which began on Monday, June 24th, will run through Friday, August 2nd. All sites are open from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Children must register the first time they attend their playground site. They are then free to come and go as they wish after that point.
The Jamestown Parks, Recreation, and Conservation Department, under the direction of Parks Manager, John Williams, for the first time in several years, will also offer a free lunch program at each site, provided by Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc., funded by a generous grant from the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County. Lunches, served at noon every day, are for any child registered in the program; there is no income or means test. Participating children will simply need to sign up each day in order to receive lunch for the following day.
As in past years, city-wide educational field trips and fun activities will also be scheduled. This will include bowling, a carnival, the Playground Olympics and a talent show for all at the end of the summer. Individual parks will host daily arts and crafts activities and games such as mancala, kickball, football, box hockey and wiffle ball. Equipment will be available at each playground site for the children to play with at any time.
The Summer Playground Program is once again made possible through the generous support of the City of Jamestown, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, New York State Office of Children and Family Services, Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. and the Jamestown Public Schools.
For additional information, Jamestown Gazette readers are invited to call the Recreation Office at 483-7523.