CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Foundation is helping four Cleveland recreation centers stay open until 11 p.m. four nights a week.
The grant will fund the “Cleveland Nights” program to help kids stay off the street and have more positive activities to do in their free time.
“They always have alternatives,” said Senior Vice President of the Cleveland Foundation Robert Eckardt. “The question is whether they are good alternatives, or bad alternatives. We think these are good alternatives.”
The Cleveland Foundation set aside $500,000 in March for the Youth Opportunities Unlimited Program. While meeting about the program, the committee discussed extending recreation center hours. The City of Cleveland decided on four recreation centers to participate: Cudell, Glenville, Lonnie Burten, and Zelma George. Starting June 13, the centers will open Wednesday through Friday from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
“We know that when kids have after school programs, the crime is less,” said Director of Public Works Michael Cox. “There are less problems on the street, so we know if we extend the hours, we can give them something to do other than sitting on the street corners.”
Corey Wanton is a Cleveland resident and remembers growing up at the Glenville Recreation Center. He said it was the only place he could go to avoid trouble and stay active.
“Yea it helped me keep out of trouble,” he said. “And try to stay focused on some of the stuff I needed to do.”
Cox says the program is a “pilot program,” and if it is a success, he would like to continue the efforts in other parts of the city.