Step Dancing anyone? Yoga, board  games, a computer room, arts and crafts, and more are now available at Randall Recreation Center, which opened for summer activities for Southwest youth on July 1st. The program will run Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 8:30 until August 23rd. With support from the SW community, Sasha Bruce has placed three staff members, led by Courtney Gibbs, at the long closed Randall Site. It is hoped that the summer program for youth will be the first step towards broader programming at the site.

The start-up program, now in its first weeks, is taking hold. Youth enticed to the site for lunch snacks, donated by DC Central Kitchen, soon find that they can participate in chess class, join a step dance group, enter a impromptu contest on entice youth hooping, play cards and UNO, and sign up for planned arts classes. In the first two weeks about 14 young people attend daily, with an average of 20 to 25 showing up each day.

Volunteers are needed to register youth for classes, assist staff, play games, work with young children who are brought in while older siblings attend groups, and to run additional activities. We are also looking for Zumba teachers.

Plans are underway for expansion of programming in the fall. Envisioned are arts programming, groups and activities for young parents and families, adults and seniors to make Randall a center for community cultural and recreational life and a place for bridging the diverse groups in the neighborhood.

The Randall Center’s reopening is due in large measure to the ongoing push from the Southwest Joint Randall Advisory Board, and the Community Benefits Coordinating Council’s Enrichment Committee, which set reopening Randall as a priority.

The project, now a joint effort of Community Benefits Coordinating Council, the SWNA Youth Activities Task Force, and Sasha Bruce Youthwork with strong support from Telesis/Rubell and Councilman Tommy Wells,  has secured a series of grants supporting staff and activities this summer. Special thanks are due to Marilyn Melkonian and Mera Rubell of Telesis/Rubell who started the fundraising with a $5,000 grant. We are grateful also to developer Steve Tanner, owner of the painted church, who contributed $5,000 for arts classes at the Randall Center, to start in late summer, organized by Art Whino’s leader, Shane Pomajambo. Area churches have added similar support with funds from Westminster Presbyterian Church for its $1,000; St. Mathews Lutheran Church for its contribution of $1,800 remaining from a joint church summer program; $1,000 from The Youth Activities Task Force, and a contribution of $800 to the SWNA Technology Task Force enabling Perry Kline and his team to install a computer center at Randall. Additional grant applications are outstanding.

To volunteer go to the Sasha Bruce website at www.sashabruce.org and follow the volunteer links. To learn more email or call Eve Brooks at 202-460-5130.

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