By: Mike Rhodes—
Muncie, IN—Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour is stepping up to promote parks and improve the overall quality of life and place for the citizens of Muncie. He began his administration with smart appointments and big plans to move Muncie Parks into the spotlight, but quickly found Muncie in the midst of a pandemic. He might have had a perfect excuse to sit this year out for programs, but Mayor Ridenour did not look at the challenge as an excuse—instead he viewed it as a bigger reason to say yes.
“When looking at the information coming out about COVID-19 and how this was impacting our kids, I saw our parks as having an even greater impact, and the programming as essential to the development of our youth and neighborhoods.” –Mayor Ridenour
Early on programs had been postponed, but as additional information and the Back-on-Track Indiana plan started to take shape, it was clear to the Mayor and his team that these programs and improvement plans could proceed, by following the recommendations for social distancing, screening and additional sanitation.
Here’s a run down on some of the activities Muncie Parks Director, Carl Malone and his staff put together for kids:
Tuhey pool opened to the general public, under new the Management of Marlene Mitchell, and an Agreement with the YMCA. The hours are Monday through Saturday 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Through July 31st, then will go to weekend hours for the month of August through Labor Day. The splash pad at Tuhey is being made available to the public after pool hours so the community can use it during hot weather. The pool attendance at 300-500 people per day (with 350 people at one time being the max capacity) since it opened on June 15th. Through the city’s partnership with the YMCA, access to Prairie Creek beach or to Tuhey pool is free to YMCA Members. Simply show your YMCA scan card for access. The YMCA is also providing swimming classes for children at Tuhey pool.
Youth Karate Class is every Monday and Wednesday from 3:00pm-4:00pm at White’s Bushido Karate DoJo. The instructor is Ron White a 10 degree black belt. The class is free for youth age 7-12. There are currently 11 youth participating in the program.
The parks program sent (16) of our youth on a canoeing trip on Saturday, June 20th. They started at The Buley Center, was transported by the Parks Staff to Ribble Street where they entered the water and ended at Tuhey Park, lunch from McAlisters Deli was provided for all the youth.
7 on 7 Flag Football 8-week Program is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00am-12:00pm at Heekin Park. There are currently 70 youth signed up and participating in the program. The football program is a partnership between the John Frank Football League and Jamille Smith, who played professional football in the Canada Football League. All football equipment was donated by the John Frank Football League. Additional free programs include: Cub Scout Youth Baseball, Basketball camps and a kickball league.
Mayor Ridenour once again said yes when approached about sponsoring the NAACP Youth Employment Program. He quickly stepped up and authorized funds from EDIT to employ 85 Muncie Area youth, who have taken great interest in the Mentoring Program that takes place every Thursday from 1:00pm to 2:00pm at the Buley Center. The majority of youth show up on time at 12:45pm to help set up. The program practices social distancing and provides a mask for every youth attending the program.
The Youth Employment Program has been very popular. Each youth is paid $50 after completing the Mentor Program on Thursday and working all day on Friday from 8:00am – 3:00pm. This year, youth are doing various type of work such as cleaning the inside of The Buley Center, picking up trash at local parks, City Hall beautification, cutting branches at some of our parks and painting curbs on MLK Boulevard, additional work planned includes an Erase the Hate Bike Trail Project, and Stop the Violence Project.
For more information on any of these programs, you may contact the Parks and Recreation Office located just east of Heekin Park at (765) 747-4858 or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MuncieParks/