Friday, August 17, 2001

Playground program kept kids happy, busy and safe

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Karaoke spread over the Bond Hill swimming pool area Thursday as children celebrated the last day of the Cincinnati Recreation Commission's Summer Neighborhood Playground program.

        “Karaoke can bring out the best in people,” said Phil Golay, a program director who brought his DJ and karaoke equipment to the pool for the last summer party.

        “I DJ and put on karaoke programs five nights a week,” he said. “Bringing it here to see these kids enjoy it was a treat for me.”

        The Cincinnati Stridettes drill team performed under the direction of Renee Jordan, a cafeteria manager for the Cincinnati Public Schools.

[photo] Drill team members Ebony Gordon, 15 (left), Shavonne Freeman, 11, Miranda Walker, 12, and Nikki Bouldin, 13, perform at the Bond Hill pool party Thursday.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        Miranda Walker, 12, a member of the Stridettes, said she has been coming to the program all summer.

        “It has been fun,” she said “We get to perform, swim, sing and enjoy each other.”

        Miranda, Nikki Bouldin, 13, Shavonne Freeman, 11, and Ebony Gordon, 15, performed a drill exercise Thursday.        

Burgers, Chili Peppers

        As about 50 kids mingled around the pool area, the sizzle of grilled hamburgers mixed with music by Lil Bow Wow, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others.

        Darlisa Anderson, director of Kiddy Kare in Bond Hill, is known to the group as the Karaoke Queen. She and her little Pips (kids at Kiddy Kare) gave their rendition of Gladys Knight's “Midnight Train to Georgia.”

        “I brought them every day during the summer program,” Ms Anderson said. “They get a chance to swim and to see how people can have fun around music.”

        Bridgette Blackmon, a CRC lifeguard, did her rendition of Aretha Franklin's “Respect.”

        Mike Allison, Bond Hill pool manager, broke up the crowd with his broken-voice rendition of “I Will Survive.”

        Mr. Golay said karaoke has allowed children to express themselves in a jovial way while giving them a chance to show that they have some talent.

        “I have about 3,500 songs they can pick from. They just pick a song and as the words flash on a screen, they sing. We are just trying to keep them off the street and show them they can have fun,” Mr. Golay said.

        He said it also generated interest among several companies which donated school supplies.

        The summer program was especially beneficial at the Bond Hill pool, said Carole Douglas, service area coordinator for CRC, because of a security problem.

        “After the program was brought, parents felt safe to send their kids here, because we were able to provide enough staff and security,” she said.        

Private funding

        She said money for the summer program came from private donors. The amounts and names of donors have not been released. The 10-week program was also in Rapid Run, Olden Tot Lot, Oyler, Fairview, Hanna, Ziegler, Evanston, Inwood, Filson, Madisonville and Winton Place.


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