It’s Time for Ward-wide Progress, D.C.!

By Zerline Hughes

TimeforProgressSo our summer plans are just about wrapped up. Waiting for word from one … OK, maybe two last camps (overboard, I know) on scholarship opportunities and then DONE. You know how we schedule our summers and how important I deem out-of-school time.

But wait, there’s more! The Department of Parks and Recreation here in D.C. just two weeks ago opened three more summer camp options. Woah! That’s big! More options, more locations, more opportunities for more D.C. youth to make good use of their out-of-school time!

For the most part, this is great news, but after reading the announcement, I started to get a bit leery.
Take a look at the addresses of two of the three locations:
Turkey Thicket Recreation Center 1100 Michigan Avenue, NE – Ward 5
Brookland Middle School 1150 Michigan Avenue, NE – Ward 5

(The third is in Ward 4)

1.) They’re both in (newly gentrified) Brookland.
2.) They are LITERALLY AND PHYSICALLY next door to each other.

Turkey Thicket Rec shares property with the brand new, beautiful Brookland Middle School. So, though more summer rec programs are great, why are they not being spread out just a bit more? Just a bit, pray tell!

What this says to me is that 1.) certain wards have more money than ours for better services and resources; 2.) residents of other wards are being listened to more than us; 3.) gentrification really is the answer.

My feelings are truly hurt. How many affordable summer camp options do our families have that exist in our own neighborhood? Um … Deanwood and …. that’s it. (And let the record show that when my kids were registered for a camp at the Deanwood Rec just last summer, they begged me to take them out of the two-week camp because, by even the standards of a 10- and 12-year-old, it just didn’t cut it). Personally, for nine years, we have had to “cross the river” every summer for programming. And yes, we even registered one or two summers at Brookland’s site.

An old boss of mine used to tell us, “don’t complain unless you have a solution.” Well, I don’t know if I have one, but when Councilmember Yvette Alexander this month explained proudly to the Eastland Gardens Civic Association that Ward 7 “made out well” in the District’s FY17 budget, I was dumbfounded. She said our plentiful budget allocations were for dependent government services like Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) and to help the UNemployment office, I mean, the Department of Employment Services (DOES) located in the heart of our community continue to serve our Ward 7 families (even though DOES serves people in every Washington, D.C. ward).

Made out well? I think not. Ward 7 is no longer a community that needs these things only and solely. Ward 7 is a growing community, now with grandparents and parents that have graduate degrees. Ward 7 is a growing part of the city that is home to a bed and breakfast, growing charter schools, and tourist attractions (have you heard that the nation’s only National Park devoted to aquatic plant life – the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens – will don a U.S. Postal Service stamp that will be available in June?)

Ward 7 needs funding for recreation programs that provide low-cost and free fitness. We need funding for increased sanitation efforts/trash pick up on our streets and sidewalks. We need beautification dollars to enhance our green spaces that are not federally funded parkland. We need a Business Improvement District like the ones that exist in 10 other communities throughout Washington, D.C., including Anacostia.

When we are ecstatic about status quo, we will get that – and less. When we don’t ask for more, we will get just that – less, or perhaps none. When we don’t set ourselves up for success, we are setting up our children for services that barely serve them. We are setting up our seniors to experience tarnished golden years. And we are telling our neighbors in other wards – and around the country – that we are tired and don’t care about the long term. And our children recognize this and follow suit.

But Not These Two! My kids care because I care. They will have more because I am demanding it. But I can’t do it alone …


One thought on “It’s Time for Ward-wide Progress, D.C.!

  1. Pingback: Have You Seen My Children’s Childhood? Or Maybe Just Their Playground Equipment? | Not These Two

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