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Community members "roll up their sleeves" to save summer ball programs


Fri, May 22nd, 2009
Posted in Government



With at least 50 people in attendance, concerned and driven parents met with Community Education staff May 18th to help determine the fate of the summer ball program in the Rushford-Peterson community.

Director Beth Thede led the meeting noting early that the resolve to "make it happen and make it great" is present. Continuing, Thede pointed out that "Community Education relies on the community" and that the department hoped to "utilize parent volunteers" rather than to "pass on the cost to each child," an idea she said was "not reasonable."

A goal of the meeting, besides attempting to urgently save the program, was to create something sustainable for successive years. As Thede put it, "We're not into mandates. We're looking for a long-term solution."

Community Education cannot handle the costs or transportation issue and needs parents to have an active role in the program. Organized programs for ages 3-5 and Kindergarten-grade 1 are already "secured," so the department is "focusing on the group that doesn't have the opportunity to play ball during the year." Those at risk are children going into grades 2 through 7.

This age cutoff was of some distress to a group of parents whose children will be going into grade 8. They noted that previously kids in grades 6-8 played as one team whereas now they are looking at separation. Thede quickly assured parents that Community Education is not opposed to assisting and supporting older groups if parents are willing to volunteer their time in organizing the age group. Such support would come in the form of assisting in field reservations, practice equipment, and more.

As the meeting broke into smaller focus groups, based upon interest and child grade level, the overwhelming amount of comments revolved around the simple ideal that parents "just want the kids to have an opportunity to play." Several ideas quickly sprang up, including the idea of having business sponsorship of varying age groups.

Concluding the meeting, and armed with lists of issues and ideas, Thede and her staff promised to "take back the information" and process it to the best of their ability with the findings available in coming weeks. Summing up, Thede said, "We want the program to continue and we want to make it a good, quality program. We want to help and we want to know how to do it."

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