BALTIMORE, Md. (July 14, 2015)—Mayor Rawlings-Blake along with Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP), and members of the community unveiled her new plan for the city’s recreation centers and pools. (Photo/

The recreation center is the meeting place for the community, a place to bond, an escape from the outside world.  In Baltimore, an escape from the rigors of the city is more than necessary.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recently announced a $135 million plan to renovate and create recreation centers, build fitness and wellness centers and upgrade public pools throughout the city. That money will come from Maryland, Baltimore, bond revenue and casinos. Baltimore is currently asking the General Assembly for $6 million dollars of that money. The current General Assembly session ends April 11.

Some of the recreation centers throughout the city are merely that in name, suffering from inadequate materials and staffing. In many cases, the recreation centers offer little more than activities that can be found in the school system.

As a child, I spent my summer vacations with my aging grandmother in the Southview Apartments in Oxon Hill, MD. The escape for the teens of the community from the crime-riddled neighborhood was the small recreation center filled with devoted mentors.

Teenagers were taught tools that would help them later in life, like learning to tie a tie or how to dress for an interview. It was here that I learned how to play pool, a game that was foreign to me. Visitors were separated by age groups, learning to play the game and eventually being taken to other centers for tournaments.

The idea of having someone invest their time into you filled a void for me and my friends.

As the city of Baltimore continues to improve its dropout and graduation rates, there are still an alarming number of children falling by the wayside. Improving and building recreation centers with dedicated workers is a great step to show at-risk children a better way.

Recreation centers are also a necessity for the elderly. Many older residents spend their days holed up in their homes to stay out of harm’s way.  The recreation centers must provide activities and job opportunities for the elderly to stay active.

Centers must offer more than sports and music as activities in order to broaden the outlooks of its people. As the powers that be work to improve recreation centers, special attention should be paid to the cities most violent areas.

Finding the balance between engaging activities for all ages with mediation and intervention is a must. Leaders of the community and centers must come together to keep the peace and bring its residents together.

The African Proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” has a direct correlation to the recreation centers of Baltimore.  Giving the community a center that they can take pride in goes a long way.

Maliik Obee is an intern in the Baltimore office of the AFRO-American. He is a student at Morgan State University studying journalism.