Summer vacation is just around the corner for thousands of D.C. youth, and Mayor Vincent C. Gray recently launched a comprehensive program, “One City Summer Fun…Something for Everyone,”  to provide safe, wholesome, fun activities for the summer.  The program is a major initiative of his safe communities agenda.

“This summer, our residents will have a full spectrum of stimulating activities, events and programs,” Gray said in a statement. “They can engage in fun, athletics, creativity, reading, learning, exploration, healthy living, volunteerism, and employment opportunities.”

“One City Summer Fun … Something for Everyone” is a wide-ranging and expanded citywide partnership among District government agencies, community and faith-based organizations and private-sector groups.

An integrated approach to a safe and creative summer season, this initiative provides something of interest for everyone in every ward across the city. The work in pulling together this program is the outcome and product of an extensive interaction between more than 30 District government agencies. The program was coordinated by the One City Summer Fun Task Force, led by Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul Quander and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Beatriz “BB” Otero. 

Components of the integrated summer program include:

Swim This Summer: The District has 17 outdoor public pools, eight indoor pools, five children’s pools and nine spray parks. The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) offers residents of all ages and abilities a variety of high-quality aquatic programming and facilities across the District. Among the programming planned for DPR pools is an event scheduled for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 14, in which thousands of kids and adults at aquatic facilities around the globe will unite to set a new global record for “The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™” (WLSL).  DPR’s Wilson Aquatic center, Deanwood Aquatic Center, and Upshur Outdoor Pool are official host locations for the 2011 WLSL record-setting event.

Play This Summer: Quality urban recreation and leisure activities will be offered this summer for D.C. residents and visitors. Among them are sports leagues, athletic contests and classes, therapeutic recreation, aquatic ventures, environmental education, summer camps, outdoor adventures, youth development and senior-citizen activities. DPR is offering hundreds of summer camps, including youth camps, teen career camps and partnership camps. Programs include movie nights, a skate mobile, fun wagon, hand dancing, computer classes and a senior picnic.

Read and Learn This Summer: Enrich your learning through reading this summer and attending various summer educational programs offered by the D.C. Public Schools, the University of the District  of Columbia, the Community College of D.C. and other institutions. The D.C. Public Library system will offer two age-based programs around the theme of exploring the world: “One World, Many Stories” (ages 2 – 12) and “You Are Here” (ages 12 – 19).

Create This Summer: This summer, the District is featuring exciting music, dance, theater and visual-arts programs for residents. For daily updates on concerts, performances and exhibitions, visit the website — www.arts202.com – set up by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. In addition, upcoming events include the Dance D.C. Festival July 22-24 and a hip-hop theatre festival July 11-16.

Be Healthy This Summer: The D.C. Department of Health encourages residents to adopt healthier lifestyles through its Live Well DC! campaign, which aims to encourage those who live, work and play in the District to live longer, more productive lives by following 10 healthy living tips. For more information, visit the Department of Health’s website at doh.dc.gov. Eligible children will enjoy free summer meals at various sites throughout the city. 

Work This Summer: Productive employment is the one of the best ways young people can realize their aspirations, improve their living conditions and actively participate in society. This year, the District’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) will provide District youth ages 14 to 21 with an enriching and constructive “learn and earn” summer work experience.  This year, approximately 12,000 youngsters will participate. 

Volunteer This Summer: The District government is asking residents to make a difference this summer by connecting to various opportunities to give back to the community.  There are tons of volunteer opportunities. For more information, visit Serve DC, the Mayor’s Office on Community Service, at www.serve.dc.gov.

Be Safe This Summer: Planning a safe and positive summer the first priority of Mayor Gray’s summer programming. The Metropolitan Police Department, the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (FEMS), the D.C. National Guard, the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, the D.C. Superior Court and other public-safety organizations and related service providers are all offering summer programming geared toward keeping youths safe. 

Unlike past years’ summer emphasis, One City Summer Fun has included community and faith-based organization programs, and private sector businesses as part of the partnership team. The District’s summer programs are being supported by good neighbors committed to investing in the city – such as Walmart, which is providing support for meal programs, learning opportunities and jobs throughout the summer to youth across D.C. 

To learn about “One City Summer Fun…Something for Everyone,” visit www.onecitysummer.dc.gov. For additional information, contact 311 or send a message to onecitysummer@dc.gov. Residents may also get information at the D.C. Public Libraries, recreation centers, and police stations as well as at some District government agencies.

Robert P. Marus

Special to the AFRO