City of Cleveland extends summer hours at Lonnie Burten Rec

City of Cleveland extends summer hours at Lonnie Burten Rec

The City of Cleveland Division of Recreation announced it will extend hours at eight recreation centers for the summer, including Lonnie Burten Recreation Center. Wednesday through Saturday from now through August 12, 2017, these rec centers will remain open until 11 p.m.

Lonnie Burten Rec
Lonnie Burten Rec

Made possible in part by the generosity of the Cleveland Foundation, the extended hours are aimed at keeping youth engaged in positive activities during the late evening hours at recreation centers as an alternative to being on the street. The city of Cleveland also announced new programming for youth and young adults which includes yoga, ballet and chess. Each recreation center will offer youth basketball leagues as well as game room activities and swimming programs. Off-duty police officers will be present at each facility.

Participating recreation centers include:

  • Lonnie Burten, 2511 East 46th Street
  • Cudell, 1910 West Blvd.
  • Glenville, 680 E. 113th
  • Zelma George, 3155 Martin L. King Blvd.
  • Michael Zone, 6301 Lorain Ave.
  • Earle B. Turner, 11300 Miles Ave.
  • Fairfax, 2335 E. 82nd Street
  • Thurgood Marshall, 8611 Hough Ave.
Lonnie Burten Rec is also serving free breakfast and lunch this summer Monday through Friday for children 1 – 18 years of age.
  • Breakfast is served 10 – 10:30 a.m.
  • Lunch is served 12 – 1 p.m.
Lonnie Burten Rec has recently expanded its programming to offer art classes and activities for all ages.
  • Printmaking class is on Wednesdays from 3 – 5 p.m.
  • Air brushing on Thursdays and Fridays from 3 – 5 p.m.
  • Bingo is held on Tuesdays from 12 – 2:30 p.m.
  • Boxing class is held Monday through Friday from 4 – 7 p.m.
A complete schedule of activities and programs offered at Lonnie Burten Rec Center can be found here.
Updated programs and activities are the result of Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative and the Office of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults. Normal business hours for recreation centers are 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

HIPPY cultivates learning and play with Children’s Reading Garden

HIPPY cultivates learning and play with Children’s Reading Garden

HIPPY, Home Instructions for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, is starting a new program in Central focused on creating a safe, outdoor place for learning and play. The HIPPY Children’s Reading Garden will offer educational and fun activities for preschool and elementary aged children from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays through July 28, 2017. Activities will be held in the exterior courtyard of in front of the Sara J. Harper Library located next to the Outhwaite Community Center on Quincy Avenue. Rainy day location will be the Louis Stokes Museum.

Dannette Davis, CMHA HIPPY coordinator, at the Children's Reading Garden.
Dannette Davis, CMHA HIPPY coordinator, at the Children’s Reading Garden.

During the March Promise Neighborhood March Advisory Council meeting, community members expressed a desire and need for more outdoor safe play spaces in the community. Promise Neighborhood early learning navigator Tatiana Wells took this feedback to Danette Davis, HIPPY coordinator, and the two organizations worked together to develop a place and program that would meet the needs expressed by community residents.

Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority police will patrol the area with a driven or stationed car, walking officer or even having the officers to volunteer to participate in the garden with children’s activities.

Parents are encouraged to attend the Children’s Reading Garden sessions with children, but it is not mandatory.

HIPPY is a parent involvement and school readiness program. The HIPPY program offers free home-based early childhood education for three, four and five-year-old children working with their parent(s) as their first teacher. HIPPY provides the parent with a set of developmentally appropriate materials, curriculum and books designed to strengthen their children’s cognitive skills, early literacy skills, social/emotional and physical development.

The Judge Sara J. Harper Library at Outhwaite Homes.
The Judge Sara J. Harper Library at Outhwaite Homes.

Programming for HIPPY has been available for Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) residents for more than 21 years. CMHA is the first housing authority nationwide that offers HIPPY programming as a part of the educational services for residents.

This program is available to the residents of CMHA’s Carver Park, King Kennedy and Outhwaite Estates. There is also open enrollment year round. Please call (216) 361-2367 extension 119 for questions or to enroll.

Students get pulse on college experience at Health Careers Week

Students get pulse on college experience at Health Careers Week

Four Promise Neighborhood high school students experienced college life during Baldwin Wallace Health Careers Week. Health Careers Week allows high school students interested in health care to spend a week at Baldwin Wallace University exploring careers in the industry.

In partnership with Baldwin Wallace University and Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, Promise Neighborhood offered four Health Careers Week scholarships to students from the Central neighborhood. Jesean Bunton, Raelin Vincent, Altonta’e Harvey and Shai’Anne Walker joined students from all over Northeast Ohio in week of adventures and learning.

Health Care Careers week student volunteer at MedWIsh International.
Health Care Careers week student volunteer at MedWish International.

Each session or activity  at Health Careers week exposes students to a different aspect of health care and related career opportunities. Students learn what their educational path could look like should they choose to pursue a career in the health care field. The schedule includes quality time in the University’s biology and cadaver labs where students learn about interpreting blood panels and examining the layout of organs in real human cadavers used by Baldwin Wallace pre-med and biology students. Using medical mannequins and other equipment, students also participated in exercises led by nursing and physician assistant program faculty including suturing, infection control, blood pressure monitoring, wound care and Code Blue response.

Raelin Vincent, senior at Jane Adams High School, wants to go into sports medicine because of the opportunities in the field and because she enjoys athletics.

“This is a great opportunity to meet people who are already in the field that I want to go into and to really see what it’s like to be at college,” Vincent said.

Shai’Anne Walker decided she wanted to pursue a career in nursing after an accident left her with a broken pelvic bone. During her hospital stay she saw the important role nurses play in patient care and decided that she would like to do the same.

The 2017 Baldwin Wallace Health Careers Week included a trip to MedWish International where the students learned about the organization’s mission to send medical supplies (that hospitals in the United States would normally dispose of) to people all over the world who need them. MedWish staff were preparing shipments to Ukraine, Pakistan and Serbia. Health Careers Week students helped them sort through supplies.

Health Careers Week campers visit MetroHealth System.
Health Careers Week campers visit MetroHealth System.

During their visit to the Baldwin Wallace University Physicians Assistant program, students learned suturing techniques and about eye and ear examinations. In the nursing skills lab they learned about protective equipment and wound care. All students received Heartsaver CPR/AED certification during the week.

Health Careers Week campers also visited MetroHealth System Hospital and participated in evening activities such as attending a Cleveland Indians game, a dinner cruise on the Nautica Queen and other outings.

“This is an awesome opportunity for Alonta’e to get some hands-on experience that aligns with what she will be doing at school this year. This will really let her put all the pieces together in terms of what she wants to study in college and what the college experience will be like,” said Kyra Alexander, mother of Altona’e Harvey and Promise Ambassador.

Health Careers Week is an invaluable opportunity for students to spend a week in a higher education setting with other high school students and to interact with university faculty and healthcare professionals.

Preschool superheroes Parade the Circle

Preschool superheroes Parade the Circle

For the second year, Cleveland Museum of Art Parade the Circle outreach artists worked with YWCA Greater Cleveland Early Learning Center preschool children, staff and families for their appearance in the annual parade. Together, they produced this year’s theme as, YWCA Preschool Superheroes Save Kindergarten. Children chose their own superhero and parents and staff were villains out to destroy kindergarten. Outreach artist Chuck Supinski and Julia Ware helped the children create unique superhero characters.

“I would like to congratulate and applaud the staff and children of the YWCA Early Education Program. This is the second year my team and I have worked with your children and their teachers. We had a wonderful time creating superheroes. From the beginning, when the children created their own idea and superhero character to the dazzling end when they bejeweled their shield, a great time was had by all,” Supinski said. “I can’t say enough about your staff whose love and care for the children is reflected in the children’s interest and creativity. We look forward to next year’s Parade Project.”

Love Girl, preschool superhero gets ready for Parade the Circle
Love Girl, preschool superhero gets ready for Parade the Circle

Cleveland Museum of Art Parade the Circle artists worked YWCA staff and students to design each student’s superhero character, such as Tomato Man for the preschool boy who loves ketchup. He would squirt ketchup on his enemies to save to kindergarten. Love Girl loves giving everyone hugs and wanted to share love to save the day. Other superhero names include Moon Man, Ninja Boy, Acorn Girl, Super Butterfly Girl, and of course Flash Man.

“This year’s Parade the Circle experience was awesome! This was the YWCA of Cleveland’s second year being involved in the festivities and it just keeps getting better. The artists, Chuck, Julia, and Lu  were great and worked diligently (and tirelessly) helping us make our own costumes, the children  and staff loved it,” said Carol Lyles, YWCA Early Learning Center. “The artist’s and Tatiana’s enthusiasm and creativity made the process of preparing for the parade experience mega fun. I especially enjoyed working closely with the artists at the tent where the action was. Tatiana was the superhero who made all of it possible. It is amazing to see how an idea comes to fruition and blossoms into a grand project. We are all looking forward to next year, wondering, what will they come up with next?”

During the ten art sessions from May 10 – June 9 the students and teachers gleamed with joy making their capes, masks, belts, and shields. Teachers and parents visited the Parade the Circle tent site at Cleveland Museum of Art to make their villain costumes. The last two sessions included choreography from Ms. Story Robinson from Parade the Circle staff. On parade day, June 10, the YWCA Greater Cleveland group had 32 participants including parents, children, teachers, and Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood staff members, Tatiana Wells and Richaun Bunton. The superheroes swarmed the villains in the parade to take away their powers and saved the day.

The villains and preschool superheroes walk in Parade the Circle
The villains and preschool superheroes walk in Parade the Circle

“It is safe to say, the YWCA of Cleveland preschoolers are some of Cleveland’s finest superheroes! Thanks to these superheroes, all children are able to enter kindergarten safely,” said Tatiana Wells, Early learning navigator, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood. “I enjoyed working with the teachers, students, and parade staff again this year. This was the best one yet. Looking forward to what we shall create next year.”

For 28 years, the Cleveland Museum of Art has been bringing this free signature summer event to Cleveland. During the event, University Circle comes alive with color, music, and art for all ages. International and national guest artists join Greater Cleveland artists, families, schools, and community groups in a spectacular display of bright costumes, giant puppets, stilt dancers, handmade masks, and colorful floats. Circle Village, which includes activities, entertainment, and food, is presented by University Circle Inc.

High-quality preschool seats on the rise in Central

High-quality preschool seats on the rise in Central

PRE4CLE has helped to increase the number of Cleveland children enrolled in high-quality preschool by 50 percent since the provider network was founded in 2014, according to the organization’s annual report. In the Promise Neighborhood, high-quality seats have increased from 412 seats in 2013 to 603 high-quality seats in 2017 – an increase of 191 seats available.

The PRE4CLE network, a partnership between CMSD and private operators, seeks to give all of the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds access to high-quality preschool. The goal is to prepare them for kindergarten and success in school.

As of December, 4,277 Cleveland children were enrolled in high-quality preschools, defined as those earning at least three of the possible five stars on the state’s voluntary Step Up to Quality rating system. Promise Neighborhood, part of Cleveland’s Ward 5 that runs from Euclid Ave. to Woodland Ave. and from East 22nd street to East 55th street, has seen the number of high-quality preschool and childcare centers more than double since 2013. Promise Neighborhood currently has more high-quality Step Up to Quality rated early learning centers than any other neighborhood in Cleveland.

PromiseNeighborhood4The number of children attending high-quality sites represented 60 percent of those in preschool in the city but totaled only 36 percent of the preschool-age population.

“It’s a big leap from where we started, but we still have a long way to go,” said Katie Kelly, PRE4CLE’s executive director.

PRE4CLE markets high-quality preschool to families and works with providers to help them earn high ratings. CMSD is a key part of the network, accounting for 61 of the 111 preschool sites.

The network has created 2,358 high-quality preschool seats in its first two years, including 1,361 existing seats that earned the required ratings. The other seats are new.

The additions were partially offset by the closing of seven high-quality preschools and the loss of more than 250 seats, mostly because of problems with aging facilities.

Also, 335 federally funded Head Start seats were converted from half-day to full day, so one child now occupies a slot formerly shared by two. Despite the net decrease, Kelly praised the shift to a full-day program.

Kelly said PRE4CLE is proud of the progress reflected in the report.

For example, sampling during the year found that nearly half of children in high-quality preschool had demonstrated meaningful progress on school readiness assessments.

And the supply of high-quality preschool seats has increased in 22 of 33 Cleveland neighborhoods since the network was formed. Sixteen neighborhoods can serve at least half of their children, up from 11 in 2014.

“There’s expansion across the city, real deep expansion in several neighborhoods,” Kelly said. “Parents no longer have to travel miles to get to a quality preschool.”

PRE4CLE hopes to raise the number of children enrolled in high-quality preschool to 40 percent by next June, 45 percent by June 2019 and 50 percent by June 2020. The network is trying to accelerate the addition of high-quality seats by providing preschools with intensive training, technical assistance and help in purchasing curriculum and other materials. Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood early learning navigator Tatiana Wells works with Starting Point and PRE4CLE to support preschool staff in increasing quality ratings.

For its first three years, the network secured $8.7 million in public funding and $2.2 million from philanthropy.

The report calls for finding a sustainable source of revenue. Kelly said the network also wants to enlist public and private partners to help renovate and build space for preschools.

Expanding access to high-quality preschool is one of the many initiatives spelled out in The Cleveland Plan, a customized blueprint for education reform in the city.

Word from Lowell: The privilege of being a dad

Word from Lowell: The privilege of being a dad

I have always held to the philosophy that there is nothing more important than your faith, your family, and your health. Including a job. If you sacrifice any of those things for work, you not only do yourself and your family a disservice, you are also short-changing the people your organization serves, as they are only getting a part of who you are as a human being. We cannot do or be our best, when we are not the whole person God intended us to be. Our families make us complete. We dads play such a pivotal role in making a family strong. Contrary to much of what you may have heard, black fathers are not all missing in action when it comes to be involved with their families. This dad in particular is present still, and believes in being there for my children, even as they have grown into wonderful young adults following their own paths.

We recently celebrated Father’s Day. After spending wonderful quality time with my wife for lunch, a movie, grilling out for dinner, and speaking on the phone with all three kids and my mom, I spent some time in reflection of what being a dad really means. A mother’s love is certainly very important to a child’s healthy development. However, the time that we fathers give to our families may be every bit as critical in the grand scheme of things. To you young fellas out there, remember that being a father is not about making babies. As the character Furious Styles in the movie “Boyz N the Hood” said: “Any fool with a [expletive] can make a baby, but only a real man can raise his children.”  Forgive my language, but this presents quite plainly, a lesson more of our young men need to learn. Too many of us blame young girls for getting pregnant, but the boys share equal responsibility in the matter.

LowellreadingThink about the responsibility that comes along with fatherhood. Our sons look to us for inspiration and guidance of what it takes to be a man, and our daughters learn how they should be treated by a man based on how we interact with our spouse. Do we open doors for ladies? Are we careful about the language we use in their presence? How about giving up a seat on a crowded bus to a woman? And do we show proper reverence to our elders? While each individual is, of course, unique, a father’s imprint on our children can be indelible. The question is whether that impression is a positive or negative? When we approach fatherhood as a privilege, I submit to you that a positive outcome is more likely.

Both my wife and I love spending time with our kids, and now grand-kids as well. She likes to say that life is all about making great memories together. I agree. After all is said and done, those memories with loved ones will be all we have left.   The impression we leave on our families will be our real legacy that we leave behind. Not a building with your name on it, or stories about how you were some kind of misguided workaholic. How do you want to be remembered? I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to be able to smile when they are asked – tell us a little about your dad.

My kids enjoy making fun of many of my foibles, and I am sure they will have big laughs years from now when they think about me after I have transitioned on to be with the Heavenly Father.  It may sound morbid to some, but will you want your loved ones to be able laugh and shed tears of joy at your memorial service, or cry because they never really got to know you? I often think of my own dad who passed away more than 16 years ago. I can still see his smile, hear his laugh, and recall how just a reassuring look coming from him from the stands of one of my basketball games, gave me strength. I miss his friendship and encouragement so very much, especially every Father’s Day. But I can still draw strength from those memories of the man he was.

My wife and I have made a point of attending most of the events our three kids have been involved in. Whether it was football, rugby, or CYO basketball with Trey, plays and singer/songwriter nights for Tucker, or basketball games with Trenton, we made it a priority. It is a privilege to be a parent, and with privilege comes the responsibility to be there for our kids. Sure, sometimes work gets in the way. But those were exceptions, not the rule. We have to build our work schedules around the time demanded by our kids, not the other way around.

Even to this day, we are available to our kids as much as humanly possible.  As we age, it is those precious moments that give us solace, and dominate our thoughts and conversations. From a selfish standpoint, when our kids are all grown up and have families of their own, the reality is, we will have more memories than time with our kids at that point. Are you storing memories up to tide you over in the autumn of your life?  In some ways, that is even more important than your 401k. Our children grow up so very quickly that we will miss many exciting moments in their lives if we are not careful. We will also lose out on our MSA or “memories savings account.” Those memories are the residue of love we invest throughout the years with our families.  Stuff you can recover, but memories are a fleeting thing that you had better hold onto with everything you have.

Somebody might say “well I don’t have any children.” Then spend time with your nieces and nephews or volunteer to be a mentor to a boy in your neighborhood who needs to “see a man to be a man.” I happen to believe that the African-American male in this country is being systematically removed from the landscape, much to the detriment of the next generation of young men and black families. But that is a subject for a future article. Suffice it to say, many of us have to do double duty as role models for those in our communities who may not have a dad in their everyday lives.

In a Father’s Day speech in 2012, President Barack Obama offered the following regarding a father’s role: “For many of us, our fathers show us by the example they set the kind of people they want us to become. Whether biological, foster, or adoptive, they teach us through the encouragement they give, the questions they answer, the limits they set, and the strength they show in the face of difficulty and hardship.” What an awesome responsibility God the Father gave to us earthly fathers from the very beginning of time.  It is an ordained privilege to be a dad.  There are many men out there who believe that with all of our hearts. More of us just need to stand up and be recognized.

Lowell Perry Jr., director, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood 

 

Promise Ambassadors awarded Neighborhood Connections grant for Central Celebration

Promise Ambassadors awarded Neighborhood Connections grant for Central Celebration

Neighborhood Connections, with additional funding from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, announced that it has awarded Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood Ambassadors with funding for a community engagement project called Central Celebration: Present, Past and Future.

Central Celebration will be an event featuring on-stage performances from neighborhood youth that deliver biographical accounts of past and present community leaders from the Central community. Over the next few months, the Promise Ambassadors will be recruiting and working with youth from Central to be part of the performance. Parents, teachers and library staff will also be heavily involved in the event to mentor youth throughout the research, rehearsal and performance process.

The Judge Sara J. Harper Library at Outhwaite Homes.
The Judge Sara J. Harper Library at Outhwaite Homes.

“By empowering kids to conduct research and learn about our neighborhood’s history the information will be passed along to others,” said Twila Norris, Promise Ambassador. “The process of learning about our leaders and connecting people to all the community resources that will help pull this event together will teach our kids about their living environment and extend their education outside of the classroom and into the community.”

The event is expected to feature performances highlighting former Congressman Louis Stokes, former mayor of Cleveland Carl Stokes, current city of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Olympian Jesse Owens, Judge Sara J. Harper, Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland and others.

A host of Cleveland institutions are currently honoring Carl and Louis Stokes in a series of year-long events, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Carl Stokes’ election as mayor of Cleveland.

The group sees Central Celebration as a way to promote the importance of education, leadership and community through educating families on the history and culture of the Central neighborhood in Cleveland.

“We all share a desire to increase community engagement in Central and want to educate Central residents about the neighborhood’s rich history,” said Lillie Hunter, Promise Ambassador and Neighborhood Connections grantee. “We also hope the program will draw attention to all the resources available in our community.”

StokesStreetNeighborhood Connections offers small grants to groups of residents in Cleveland and East Cleveland to do projects that improve the quality of life in their communities. Grants range from $500 to $5,000. Grants are intended to spur small, grassroots community projects.

Promise Ambassadors are advocates and supporters of the Cleveland Central neighborhood. They have participated in Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood-provided training and are committed to working directly with the Promise Neighborhood organization and its partners to improve the quality of life for residents in the Central community. Promise Ambassadors are involved in a specific area or areas of interest connected to the Promise Neighborhood mission including: early learning, K-8, high school, college and career or resident leadership. Learn more about Promise Neighborhood Ambassadors and how to get involved here.

Preschool Read and Ride promotes family reading at home

Preschool Read and Ride promotes family reading at home

The first ever Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood early learning Read and Ride program awarded 14 preschool students with brand new bicycles. Promise Neighborhood preschool families read an outstanding 866 books and 116 families participated in the program.

“It was awesome to see the growth of Frederick and Diamond during the program,” said Maria Schulenberg, preschool teacher at Marion-Sterling Elementary of the school’s Read and Ride winners.

Deon'tae Pratt (left) and Diamond Bowling, preschool Read and Ride winners at William Patrick Day
Deon’tae Pratt (left) and Diamond Bowling, preschool Read and Ride winners at William Patrick Day

Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood envisions that every child is ready for kindergarten and that every third grader reads at third grade level. The early learning Read and Ride program is a fun, family-oriented activity that supports families in reinforcing reading at home.

“Deon’tae winning this bike is truly a blessing,” said Antoinette Pratt, grandmother of William Patrick Day winner Deon’tae Pratt. “With summer coming I’ve been wanting to get bikes for the kids, especially Deon’tae because he outgrew his old bike.”

Pratt used a number of community resources to get books for her and Deon’tae to read. She went to the library, received books from Help Me Grow and took advantage of the books provided by the Read and Ride program.

Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood hosted the Read and Ride program for early learning centers through a partnership with Starting Point and Kids Book Bank. The contest was held at seven Step Up to Quality rated early childcare learning centers located in the Central neighborhood. Families with children enrolled in these programs were eligible to win a bicycle if they read at least three books with their child. For each additional book read, the child’s name was placed in the drawing for the bicycle.

The Read and Ride program began at George Washington Carver Elementary in 2015 and is now held at all Cleveland Metropolitan School District elementary schools in the Promise Neighborhood. Read and Ride has been successful in motivating first and second grade students to expand their reading, so in 2017, Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood staff decided to expand the program to early learners.

Early learning and child care centers prepare children to transition to kindergarten. According to research, children who attend high-quality preschool enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not. Programs like Read and Ride can help improve a child’s vocabulary and increase their confidence. Children who read better tend to do better across all school subjects.

Frederick Grair, preschool Read and Ride winner at Marion-Sterling
Frederick Grair, preschool Read and Ride winner at Marion-Sterling

“The teachers at Marion-Sterling told me that Frederick was unable to recognize letters and having trouble sounding out letters. I worked with him every day to help him and after a while he got better and even asked to read on his own. He would tell me to let him read on his own and would return to school telling his teachers he read all his books on his own,” said Desharay Riley, mother of Frederick Grair. “It makes me feel good that he is improving and that I’m not just sending my kid to school and letting them do all the work, that I am helping my child. Marion-Sterling is a very good program and Ms. Schulenberg and Ms. Eileen are the best teachers. The Read and Ride program encouraged me and my son to keep reading.”

Bicycles were provided by Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood and books were provided by Kid’s Book Bank of Cleveland.

Find out more about early learning programs available in Central here.

Cleveland Cavaliers unveil media center at East Tech High

Cleveland Cavaliers unveil media center at East Tech High

Three Cleveland Cavaliers players — along with Cavs leadership, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and city and Cuyahoga County council members including Ward 5 Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland — unveiled a new media center Thursday at the Boys & Girls Teen Club at East Tech High School in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood.

James Jones, small forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, shoots pool at the new NBA Cares Boys & Girls Club media center at East Tech High.
James Jones, small forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, shoots pool at the new NBA Cares Boys & Girls Club media center at East Tech High.

The project is part of the NBA Cares program, which since 2001 has given back to the city of each conference champion during the NBA Finals. The work includes including the creation and/or renovation of basketball courts, libraries, and technology centers and are designed to leave a positive lasting impact in the respective cities.

The transformed space at East Tech High School includes new computers, tablets and other digital tools, along with furniture, books, basketball equipment and much more. The Learn & Play Center will provide youth in the area with a safe place to play and resources to help them explore educational interests.

Cavs rookie Kay Felder got beat at a game of Guess Who, delighting his young opponent. Forward/center Channing Frye played Jenga with three kids. Forward James Jones told Miryne Thomas, the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland’s 2017 Youth of the Year, to keep doing what he’s doing.

“As an East Tech graduate myself and someone who grew up in the Boys & Girls Club, to be here like this… it’s a wonderful experience,” said Richard Starr, director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland’s King Kennedy Club.

Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Kay Felder plays Guess Who.
Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Kay Felder plays Guess Who with kids from Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland.

In a press conference emceed by NBATV’s Ahmad Rashad, guests in attendance – including 100 kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland – heard from many including Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, as well as Cavaliers CEO, Len Komoroski, Cavs General Manager David Griffin, and player James Jones.

Head Coach Tyronn Lue and his staff were joined by players Channing Frye, Derrick Williams, Richard Jefferson, Kay Felder and Jones for the official ribbon cutting to formally open the new space.

All of the VIPs – including Cuyahoga County Councilman Pernel Jones Jr, Cleveland City Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland, Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley, and Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon – then spent time in the new Club room interacting with the kids.

Watch video of the new media center at East Tech High here. Video and content courtesy of Cleveland.com.

Summer meals available at CMSD schools

Summer meals available at CMSD schools

Cleveland Metropolitan School District is serving free meals to students again this summer. In the Central neighborhood, free meals for students, including hot lunch and dinner, are being provided at two school locations. Lunch is provided from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at Alfred A. Benesch Elementary and dinner is served from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at Marion Sterling Elementary. The free meals at Alfred A. Benesh Elementary and Marion-Sterling Elementary will end on Friday, July 28.

CMSD and other students younger than 18 will eat for free. Parents and caregivers who accompany the children will pay a small fee that covers the cost of the food.

For a list of sites, with dates and hours of operation, go here.

Chris Burkhardt, executive director of food and child nutrition services, hopes to continue the dinner service and expand the number of sites after the school year begins Aug. 14. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is helping the District identify neighborhoods where free meals are in short supply.

Free meals are available to CMSD students this summer.
Free meals are available to CMSD students this summer.

Burkhardt wants to see not only that children have food, but also that items served in District cafeterias are both appetizing and nutritious. Spurring demand is particularly important in high schools, where teenagers often come in with little time to grab breakfast and fewer than half eat the lunches.

Burkhardt said he and staff will chat with kids during summer meals and gauge their likes and dislikes. When the school year begins, students will be added to new menu committees in the buildings. Burkhardt has been talking with vendors about new and innovative products. Schools will customize their menus and swap out items that are not well received, he said.

“It’s not nutritious if it’s not in their stomachs,” Burkhardt said. “We want to put together food that kids want to eat, not what they have to eat.”

Burkhardt believes CMSD can spark interest with hand-held foods that are convenient for multi-tasking youngsters. He also thinks students will go for bold, spicy and exotic flavors that have become trendy.

Among the new products his department is considering are baked calzones, stuffed with pepperoni made from turkey so it is acceptable to those who shun pork. Another option could be restaurant-quality flatbreads that cafeteria teams would creatively drizzle with various toppings and seasonings.

Old favorites like cheeseburgers and pizza won’t disappear but will come with 100 percent beef, low-fat and low-sodium cheese and whole grains. Properly formulated, the products will still be tasty, Burkhardt said.