Activities offered for local students

Published 6:58 pm Sunday, September 3, 2017

During a recent LaGrange City Council meeting, local parents came forward to express concerns about what is being done to keep local youth away from gangs.

The answer to that question was multifaceted, since efforts are being made on multiple fronts.  One of the top concerns for busy, working parents of youth, especially teens, that was discussed during the meeting was the difficulty of finding positive activities for their children.

“My concern today is doing something to help our youth to not keep going back and forth to prison, not keep getting all of these gang affiliation charges, not even hanging out in the streets and finding something to do,” Chandra Dorsey said.

The city is currently in the process of creating more areas where teens and children can participate in safe activities and sponsor programs, such as the First Tee, in its annual budget, but officials admitted that there is still room for improvement.

“As far as doing some preventative measures, we have a skate park that we are trying to put in that will be in District 2,” Council member Willie Edmondson said during the meeting. “We have the recreation centers that have programs that are going on, but we don’t have enough because we just as a city can’t get enough.”

The Troup County Parks and Recreation Department has attempted to help fill some of that community need by offering a wide variety of activities for children and parents. The department also offers a fee hardship waiver for parents who might not be able to afford to register their children for sports with the center. Additionally, the equipment for activities with the department is provided in order to ease the burden on parents. The department does ask that children under the age of 12 be accompanied by an adult.

“Let’s say it is a Wednesday afternoon at 3:30, and they wanted to come up and play in open gym,” said Rhodes. “If they are 12 (years-old) and over, they don’t need their parents with them. They can walk or ride their bicycle up there and come into a safe facility and shoot around. We also have the outdoor basketball court, which we have recently resurfaced and repainted to make it look really nice. That is open all the time, so they can go there as well.”

The department offers a variety of sports for local students, and while registration for fall sports recently ended, winter sports registration for girls and boys basketball, indoor soccer and cheerleading will take place Oct. 23 through Nov. 3. First Tee golf, karate, petite ballet and the recreation center’s swim team accept applications year-round.

“Everything that we offer is very basic, very general, something that anybody can take whether they have taken that before or not,” Rhodes said. “So, with the karate, you don’t have to have two years of experience in karate to join one of our karate classes. It is for everyone.”

Other activities are available on a daily basis at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center to anyone wishing to participate, such as basketball, swimming and pickle ball. Most activities are free with membership or cost $5 for non-members. The center also hosts free gym time almost daily.

Additionally, the William Griggs Recreation Center hosts free movie nights on the second and fourth Fridays of each month, along with Xbox nights on the first and third Friday of each month. On Wednesdays, the Griggs Center hosts a free open gym from 3:30 to 6 p.m., though the hours will decrease once basketball starts in November to accommodate basketball practice. The center also hosts free basketball skills clinics for children age 8 to 18 on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Free family days at the center, where parents are encouraged to come with children to play, take place on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 6 p.m.

“The volunteers are, in my eyes, the heroes of our community, the unsung heroes,” Rhodes said. “They are the ones that really get to these children. We have found that the majority of the time they are a positive influence in that child’s life in their formative years. Yes, we play baseball, and yes we play soccer and football and you name it, but at the end of the day, they are just recreational sports. The most important thing is getting a positive adult influence into their lives, teaching them something new. There are tremendous benefits from participating in youth sports programs. (It is) not just becoming more skilled at basketball, baseball or soccer or football, but being part of a team, being part of something that is bigger than you and committing to a group.”

To enroll for an activity with the Troup County Parks and Recreation Department visit For more information about programs at the recreation center call 706-883-1670.

For information about what the LaGrange Police Department is doing to keep kids away from gangs read the Tuesday edition of the LaGrange Daily News.