Maia Maxham

Creating video games and apps, making pizza, designing shoes, camping, going to sporting events and zip-lining. These are some of the ideas that came up during the first Junior Park Board meeting on Jan. 2, which was attended by nine middle school kids.

It’s these ideas, coming from kids themselves, that Rachell Entler, recreation supervisor, was looking for when she and Dannette Krajewski started the Junior Park Board at the Park District of Forest Park.

“We really wanted to give the kids the opportunity to contribute ideas on what they wanted to do,” said Entler. “We, the park staff, can plan a whole bunch of programs and trips, but if they aren’t what the kids want to do, then we aren’t providing real recreational activities for the kids.”

The Junior Park Board, open to middle and high school age kids, is focused on getting local tweens and teens invested and involved in planning activities through the park district, activities they come up with themselves.

Entler said she wants to make sure kids are getting the opportunity to do things they want to do, which may include activities that she and the rec staff might take for granted.

“The things that you or I may have done all the time as a kid, or that my own kids readily have access to, are some of the very things many kids have never experienced. This reinforces the need for us as recreation professionals to provide opportunities for these experiences that aren’t being supported at home for various reasons,” said Entler.

The next meeting will be held in February, though the date hasn’t been set yet. Interested middle school and high school aged kids or their parents can call Rachell Entler or Dannette Krajewski at 708-366-7500 for more information.

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