by Jon Thompson, Mayor, City of Coolidge
I’d like to take time this issue to talk about the great programs our Coolidge Parks and Recreation Department offers while maintaining social distancing guidelines. While COVID-19 appears to be with us for a period of time, our hard-working staff is finding ways to provide quality programs to help kids and adults stay healthy and strong!
Last issue I spoke about how our library staff has come up with innovative ways to offer virtual programming to adults and children. These valuable programs offer a wealth of learning opportunities from cooking to staying on top of current events.
Coolidge Parks and Recreation also has pivoted to offer as many options as possible during these challenging times. Coolidge’s Kenilworth Sports Complex has become known in the region for premier youth baseball tournaments and activities. As our community has grown, Kenilworth has been a major sports hub for the city offering softball, soccer, and open fields for play.
Due to many of the organized sports being postponed, staff has come up with ways our residents can enjoy the complex even late in the night. The City has recently expanded our field light hours till 9 p.m., which allows all types of sporting activity to flourish. Another park located in the City, Walker Park, has been lighted as well at night to take advantage of staying active. The response has been overly positive, allowing our younger citizens and adults to take part in activities while social distancing.
Our Parks and Recreation Department also has been hard at work coming up with ways to offer limited sports to our youth. The Coolidge Youth Center has been one of the most visited recreational facilities over the past decade for our youth. The center offers a wide range of activities from basketball, pickleball, volleyball, and more.
Because of COVID, the department has had to scale back on these sports but recently has opened the gym portion with limited capacity to high school age and younger children. This has been a huge success as children in the City now have a place to partake in an activity while social distancing. Opening this center in a limited fashion has been very positive from the feedback received. As time moves forward, we hope to increase the capacity and fully open for operation.
While we have made great strides to offer additional hours for field lighting and reopen the Youth Center, our community has asked for more, and we’ve made progress toward that goal.
Beginning in March, the department will offer youth t-ball/coach pitch. This is a great program for the youth here in Coolidge and will be conducted with regard to distancing efforts. The City hopes to offer more sport leagues in the coming months with guidance from local, state, and federal health partners.
Staying healthy and active is very important during this time. It’s great to see how the community has come together along with our Parks and Recreation department to offer ways to achieve this. We are a great community of resilient individuals who have taken our motto of “Coolidge Strong” as a way to stay safe and remain active.