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Pandemic limits recreational options for city youth

It’s not been an easy first year coordinating city recreation opportunities for Kayla Drummond, as she tries to come up with fun and safe ways for youngsters in the city to learn, play and recreate outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drummond, who is the city recreation department coordinator, recently told City Council’s public works committee of the challenges she faces and those for the city children, many of whom receive lunches from the department, provided by the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

Drummond told the committee that she was hoping to add activities to the summer roster, such as reading stories, receiving instructions from master gardeners on plantlife, visiting the Nature Play area in Brandon Park and, perhaps, getting a pizza-making demonstration.

But, she said, she needed some help from area businesses, non-profit organizations, donations of time from master gardeners and individuals who might drop off books are yard games to the office at the city public works building at 1500 W. Third St.

Drummond said she wanted to take advantage of the new Nature Play site at Brandon Park, which uses natural

settings such as wood stumps, rocks and plant life to encourage children to play outdoors and learn about their environment.

“This is a good idea,” said Councilwoman Bonnie Katz. “The ideas will get the kids outside and moving.”

The recreation department has saved in salary and overhead, such as equipment costs, Katz said.

But because of the pandemic restrictions and social distancing, the special events fundraisers such as Homemade Days, a StrEAT Food Truck Festival and operation of the Memorial Park swimming pool were canceled.

After her presentation, Councilman David Banks said he would provide her some contacts of master gardeners. Drummond said she would take these concepts to the recreation commission.

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