Wilmington’s Mayor Dennis Williams took another step to keep kids engaged in arts activities for the summer.

 

The mayor kicked off the "Summer in the Parks" initiative today in Elbert-Palmer Park. The city has partnered with the Grand Opera House to provide eight weeks of free creative entertainment that will occur throughout the city in eight different parks. The idea behind the program is to provide a safe haven for children throughout Wilmington and peak their interest in the arts.

At a press conference held in the park, Mayor Williams said that it is important for children to have a place to go during the summer where they can feel safe. “We want to engage the children, we want to keep the children busy, we want them to know that there is a safe life, we want them to know that the government cares about them,” Mayor Williams said. Mayor Williams said he believes the "Summer in the Parks" initiative is what Wilmington needs to provide its children with a safe place to go throughout the summer.

Shawn Allen, deputy director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, spoke about how as a child he thought that having a safe place to play, either in the park or at the local YMCA, was one of the most important parts of his summer. Allen hopes that the Summer in the Parks initiative will provide that same opportunity for children today.

In conjunction with the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Grand Opera House has set up eight weeks of programming that will cover everything from the visual arts to teaching kids how to DJ. The program will feature a diverse group of artists ranging from local dance, music, and theater groups to a Brazilian jazz group from Philadelphia.

Pamelyn Manocchio, Director of Community Engagement at the Grand Opera House, stated that it is vital for children to be exposed to the arts. “It can bring so much joy into people’s lives; it can transform their lives and just give somebody an alternative for their choices. And if not just a serious change like that, it can just bring them joy for an afternoon,” Manocchio said.

Along with Elbert-Palmer Park, Halloway Park, Haynes Park, H. Chambers Park, Speakman Park, Kosciuszko Park, Judy Johnson Park, and Tilton Park will also play host to the Summer in the Parks program. More information about upcoming programs and locations can be found at www.thegrandwilmington.org/parks.