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NLR Parents Concerned About Lack of Activities for Kids

Concerned community members in North Little Rock say the Parks and Recreation Department's policy of not allowing kids into community centers unless they're part of the summer camp program leads kids to spend their days on the streets, likely crossing into trouble.
Working single mom Yoshida Whitelow is relieved her son is able to attend Glenview Community Center's summer camp program.

"I'd rather him be active, you know, and be able to attend the summer camp, so he can be able to do all the fun activities," Whitelow said. "Otherwise, he'd just be sitting at home waiting for me to get home from work."

Field trips and fun indoor activities are all positives, but Whitelow also admits it's pricey for her family.

"You just have to do without to make sure your kids are safe while you're working you know?" she said.

Some of Whitelow's friends tell her they simply can't afford the $160 dollar summer camp fee per child.

"I have a friend she can't bring them to the camp," Whitelow said. "She can't afford to bring them to the summer program because she has three children."

The program is operated by North Little Rock's Parks and Recreation Department. It's offered at three community centers.

Bernadette Conley works in the North Little Rock School District and she's concerned because kids who have community center membership cards aren't allowed through the doors from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. while the camps are going on, unless their parents have paid the fee.

"That's our main concern, our babies are just idle at home walking the streets during the day when we have center," she said. "These kids need some place to go. School's out and there's nothing for them to do."

Conley believes that's left many kids like Taniya and her friends wandering the streets.

"We just go home and be bored, because there's really nothing to do out here just walk around and talk," the young girl told us.

And Conley is afraid some of them will eventually end up crossing into trouble.

"An idle mind is a devil's workshop," she said. "We're always talking about youth crime being an issue. It's because they're out on the streets and bored."

Conley has suggested allowing the community kids who can't afford the summer camp programs to have access to the facilities but not participate in organized activities like field trips.

"These centers are big enough to have room for the summer camp kids and the community kids," Conley said.

According to community center staff, parents do have the option to pay for individual three-week sessions of the summer camp for $60 per child or a pay by week option of $25.

One center employee told us she enrolls her three children in the summer camp program and feels it's a reasonable price for a parent's peace of mind.
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