S.B. Parks Free Summer Programs for Kids
By Dianne Anderson
Thousands of summer vacationers will hit the streets of San Bernardino in about three weeks, looking to run off all that spare energy.
Parents may want to revisit their local parks and recreation centers for a multitude of safe, fun and free things for the kids to do.
Park programs are opening doors for drop-ins at six different community center locations offering up arts and crafts, fine art programs, free swimming lessons, and free lunch.
At the Hernandez Community Center, The Kids Club has many activities running Saturday afternoons from 2-4:00 p.m. The center is located at 222 N. Lugo Avenue.
Other special events include monthly birthday celebrations, family game night, family karaoke, and parties packed with snacks and fun.
“They make cookies and slime, create sugar scrubs for moms. Once a month they have themed parties for all the kids that have birthdays, and different activities every week,” said Juanita Webster, acting Community Recreation Manager.
Parents can drop the kids off to play while they run errands or go grocery shopping, which is allowed, but she said they also encourage parent participation. Kids dropped off at location must be a minimum of nine years old, and younger children must be accompanied by an adult.
Not many years ago, Webster said the bankruptcy slowed down a lot of fun programs. These days, money isn’t limitless, but she said there is a good summer line up in the works.
“Absolutely, we’ve actually been doing great things with a little bit of nothing for quite some time,” she said.
The community can feel free to mix and match, and visit all centers. They don’t have to live in the neighborhood to take advantage of programs, and every center offers something different.
Starting June 7 through August 2, all children and teens from one to 18 years old can eat free lunch at all centers from noon to 1:00 p.m.
Movies in the park run from June 7 to July 5, which regularly draws a couple of hundred people every Friday through June and the first Friday of July. Movies start at dusk with themed activities for the kids starting at 6:00 p.m., such as movie trivia, and crafts related to the movie.
“They get a couple of hours of fun leading up to the movies, and get to be there when the staff comes to put up the big movie screen outside,” Webster said.
Aside from regular free programs, they also offer a youth summer basketball program at $30, which includes six weeks game instruction, a pizza party, trophies pictures, and uniform extras like hats, shirts or socks.
Through the Operation Splash grant, free swimming lessons are available for qualifying kids at community centers at Hernandez, Nunez and Delmann Heights pools. There is a scholarship application, but she said most of the city’s children already receive free and reduced lunch, and automatically qualify.
Delmann Heights Community Center, located at 2969 N Flores St, San Bernardino, is running a good mix of comic book clubs and reading programs. During the summer, they also host a monthly food distribution and senior nutrition program, as well as free movies and community special events.
“Seniors meals are available, meals for youth in the summer. They offer a year-round after-school supper program. They have great things happening at Delmann,” she said.
Down the street at Ann Sherill’s Park, the Akoma Unity Center has a great lineup of summer activities, which has quickly filled to capacity. The center is located at 1367 N. California St.
Their summer program was only open for a short time, and reached capacity of 120 kids within just days of announcing sign-ups.
“It just shows you the need for free programs like this, especially over summer break” said Jennifer Xicara, Operations Manager at Akoma Unity Center.
Last week, they held a ribbon cutting for their community garden, along with the official grand opening of their Girl Scout club. They also held graduation for an industrial robotics class, a free 10-week course under an Edison engineer who taught kids how to build a robot.
Xicarra said girls can sign up for Girl Scouts programming, something not seen since Dr. Anne Sherill started the Girl Scouts in the 1950s. The local troop is sponsored by The Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council, and is seeing a lot of local interest. They now have about 20 participants at the Westside location.
“At our Akoma, our mission is to bring quality top-notch programs to these girls,” she said. “They received their vests and their patches for free, and each received a djembe drum, thanks to the Girl Scouts funding for the program,” she said.
STEM and the arts are a big focus at the center, as well as the new Girl Scouts troop. In June, the girls will attend a full day camp at a NASA conference at CSUSB to experience what it feels like to be a female engineer.
“We are super excited to continue the legacy of Dr. Ann Sherill, who started the first Girl Scouts in San Bernardino,” Xicarra said.
To view or register for upcoming programs, see www.akomaunitycenter.org
To see locations and activities for Parks and Rec, see www.sbcity.org/parks