Members of the Boys to Men Mentoring Program. (Courtesy photo)

Jesse Owens Park, located at 9651 Western Avenue in South L.A., offers a range of activities for the entire family to enjoy. The summer fun will continue until August 5th on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

To acquaint the community with the park’s options, Recreation Services Supervisor Jacqueline Richardson headed an Introduction to Summer Parks After Dark on June 22.  A deejay on hand to set the festive summer atmosphere as well as a jumper and an art table displayed by Ana Miro, the owner of Artsy Wagon.

Alex Floyd, an Artsy Wagon art instructor, said, “Art is a great way for the youth to express themselves.” Nearby on the grass, karate lessons were taught by Linda Mikell, an instructor of the craft for more than 29 years.  Also, people were swimming in the huge pool.

A Mentorship Program for young men was taught by James Troy Muhammad and the leaders of New World Academy Foundation, a community-based organization that serves youth and young adults.

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“We believe in comprehensive support which includes advocacy, mental wellness, conflict resolution gang prevention,” said James, who added that the foundation is led and created by community leaders with similar lived experience.

“I grew up in South Central Los Angeles where I got caught up in gang culture, but I was able to turn my life around and later went to Cal State Northridge. I have worked in community intervention for 30 years,” he said.

James noted that although the foundation works with all youth at the park, this summer the emphasis is on the Boys to Men Mentoring Program promoting books over guns.  The leaders also focus on a book club, chemical and drug caution training and anti-bullying campaign.

The program focuses on finding one’s purpose through reading for success. According to James, other topics include dealing with disappointment, overcoming early childhood trauma, and reducing post aggression.

Children participate in the karate classes. (Courtesy photo)

Supervisor Richardson stated that there will also be concerts in the park, senior line dancing, water aerobics, karate, arts and crafts, and sound bowl meditation to help clear the mind.  Other activities include tennis lessons, basketball clinics, and girls basketball team.

“I have been working for the department for 15 years and had no formal educational training, but was a product of parks and recreation,” Richardson stated. “These classes are very important to the community because a lot of parents cannot afford lessons.”

Anabel Arroyo of Gardena, whose children enjoy swim lessons at Jesse Owens Park, said, “I like it because it keeps my kids busy and exercising.”

Also, the park is seeking to hire more lifeguards, according to park employee Andres Delgado. Interested persons can call the facility or visit the site in person to obtain more details about the position.

For more information or to register for swimming classes or senior water aerobics, call (323) 241-6708.