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Recreational Area

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Parks Program Focuses On Teens


Teens at Parks, originally designed for the youth in the Administration for Children's Services' group homes, offers teens throughout the city three hours a day of sports, arts, and educational programming at Parks recreation sites in all five boroughs. This is Parks' first official teen program, and since it was begun last summer it has had transformational effect on both the young people from group homes and the local students with whom they are integrated.

Every weekday from 6-9, young people aged 13-21 may take part in Teens at Parks, or TAP, programming. To supplement regular activities, 3 special events are held each month. Professional instructors are skilled at drawing enthusiasm out of indifference. The first week of cooking class, 6 young people turned out to prepare pudding. But when spirits are high and the food is good, word travels fast; participation has now more than tripled, in time for them to move on to chicken. The skill building that takes place in classes such as this one has broader application in the participants' lives.

One of the challenges for the young people in group homes is to normalize their experiences and forge productive friendships with other city kids. TAP instructors proudly cite moments when the distinction between the two sets of kids dissolved. Former TAP Bronx Coordinator Aaron Greenberg told the Plant about Tyshawn Grey, a basketball lover who plays one handed because of a deformity in his left hand. In last summer's basketball championships, Tyshawn, before bleachers packed with young people, made a lightning fast crossover, shot past his defender, and scored a lay-up. Spectators for both teams cheered him.

Already TAP and the Parks Department have opened doors for the young people. Raymond Cottman, for example, a leader among his peers, was employed through the parks as an assistant to the TAP Bronx Coordinator. TAP is expanding in many directions, adding new sites and new programs to their roster. Their first After-School newsletter goes out this month. If you are interested in volunteering, they'd love to have you. Please contact Sarah Horowitz, Director Teens At Parks at 212-360-8277.

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT MAYOR KOCH RETURNS SPECIAL GIFT TO PARKS AT THE 5OTH ANNIVERSARY OF RIVERSIDE PARK

On October 12, 1937 - 50 years ago almost to the day - former Parks Commissioner Robert Moses officially reopened Riverside Park at a public ceremony at the Riverside Rotunda following the completion of a four-year $24 million expansion project. Gathering in the Rotunda last Saturday, near the spot where Moses stood a half century before, Mayor Koch, Commissioner Stern, elected officials and friend gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the expansion of Riverside Park, the longest waterfront park in the City. QUOTATION FOR THE DAY There is a period near the beginning of every man's life when he has little to cling to except his unmanageable dream, little to support him except good health, and nowhere to go but all over the place.

E.B. White (1899-1985)

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