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Children's programs may avert a bummer summer

Nine-year-old Renita Yates said she could have passed the summer's long hot days by staring idly out of her window or hanging out with friends. Instead, she and other children in her neighborhood will be taking swimming lessons, making beaded jewelry and learning African dance.

Those are some of the children's activities being offered this summer through the city of Tampa Recreation Department's "Summer Fun in an All-America City" 1991 program.

The 10-week program begins June 18 and costs $4 per child. A free lunch and snack are provided each weekday.

Twenty-three community and craft centers throughout the city have planned a daily schedule of activities. Children at the North Tampa Community Center in Sulphur Springs will participate in craft-making, children's bingo, book clubs and weight lifting.

"We're trying to accommodate the needs of children with working parents," said Jeanne Paul, an official at the North Tampa center.

Paul said about 75 children visit the center each week during the school year. She said that number will triple once school lets out.

But the community center is not a babysitting service, Paul said, adding, "Recreation is recreation. It is not child care."

In addition to the daily programs at each community center, the Recreation Department has a number of citywide activities planned, including:

A special program for children ages 5 through 8 that runs from June 17 to Aug. 9. The program provides closely supervised activities such as games, crafts and storytelling.

A Roving Arts and Crafts program that will visit each center with a different project each week.

"Hats Off to a Healthy You!", a one-week drug prevention education program for children ages 5 to 13. It offers hands-on activities at each of the 18 community centers in Tampa.

Junior tennis lessons for children ages 8 to 16 that will begin June 17 at several locations in the city. Pools will be open for recreational and instructional swimming. Registration for swimming lessons begins June 10.

"These days, a community center has so many different bills to fill," said Paul, who has worked at the North Tampa center for 20 years.

For information on programs, call 229-7529.

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