The Bexley Recreation and Parks Department will launch a program this month designed to provide a constructive way for youth to while away the summer days.

The Park N' Play program will make recreation activities and equipment available at no cost, said Michael Price, recreation director.

"If you want to get hold of a Frisbee, if you want to get hold of a cornhole set, you can do that," he said.

Beginning Saturday, June 10, the program will be available at the Park Cabin at Jeffrey Park, 165 N. Parkview Ave. It will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday. It also will be offered from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays at the city's three elementary schools on a rotating basis, beginning June 14 at Cassingham Elementary, 250 S. Cassingham Road.

"There may be squirt-gun fights, there may be water-balloon toss games," Price said.

"It's designed to be high energy, to get kids involved and to have some supervision. So when a kid asks to go to the playground, there'll be somebody there to supervise," he said.

The program is funded by a $5,000 grant from the Bexley Community Foundation's general fund and a $4,000 grant from the foundation's Youth and Recreation Fund.

The idea for the program originated from discussions Recreation and Parks staff had about resurrecting the department's former Park Cabin and Playground Leaders programs. Through those programs, recreation employees supervised free activities at Jeffrey Park and area playgrounds.

"We've had a discussion of, 'What if we meld those two programs together?' " Price said. "The idea is having excited, energetic staff and having equipment we can take out to different sites to provide some fun oversight to kids in the neighborhood."

The department has conducted interviews and will hire four to five seasonal employees to staff this initiative, bringing on college students with previous experience overseeing youth programs, Price said.

"Some of them are the same staff who have been part of our summer camp program and our Before and After Care program," he said. "The staff know the kids."

The Park N' Play program also will offer activities at the David H. Madison Community Pool from 2:55 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

"There may be kayak races, there may be remote-control boat races, canoe battleships where they're trying to fill up the other person's canoe with water," Price said. "This gives (parents) an opportunity to get older youth into an active setting."

Tracking the response this summer, the recreation department will evaluate whether to request city funding to continue the program next year, Price said.

The seed money the foundation provided gave the department "an opportunity to try something that we don't really have a history with and we don't know what kind of response there will be and doesn't generate any money to offset it. It's just a true service," Price said.

"If this is hugely successful, then the city will feel more comfortable coming up with dollars to support something that our community's heavily involved in," he said.

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