Looking to broaden the reach of community throughout the city, Williamston groups and officials are enhancing efforts to provide children with a more direct role in community involvement.
Red Cedar Garden Club
In previous years, the Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club, a local sector of a national organization designed to help beautify the city, has encouraged youth participation in various craft projects and environmental enhancements.
Among these, children were invited to participate in the Smokey Bear Woodsy Owl Coloring Contest that promotes the mascots’ messages of preventing wildfires and caring for the land.
Carol Grainger, the club’s vice president and community liaison, said each year in April the club also sells cotton trees for 50 cents to the children and encourages them to plant them around the area.
“So many of these trees in Williamston are due to the fact that we sold children those trees, and they planted them for us,” said Grainger.
Expansion of Youth Recreation Services
Additionally, Williamston officials have continued pushing youth involvement, expanding the reach of their youth recreation services and continuing their partnership with Meridian Township to provide the community with an official parks and recreation department.
Corey Schmidt, city manager, said this partnership began when Williamston’s previous department, the Red Cedar Recreation, was terminated by the school board in 2010. This led to a running two-year contract, up for renewal again this month.
“In 2010, the city voted to become the recreation provider for youth in the Williamston school district vicinity,” said Schmidt. “The city really stepped in and saved youth sports.”
Moving forward, Parks and Recreation Commission members need to reevaluate the city’s role in providing youth recreation services to the city and to consider the impact of raising costs of participation to fund more competitive sports.
Amie Brown, Parks and Recreation Commission member, said she fears that a rise in costs would negatively impact youth recreation opportunities as it would discourage more people from getting involved.
Earl Wolf, commission chair, supported this idea, saying inflated prices may isolate the segments of the community who cannot afford to participate.
“The whole spirit of recreational sports is that everyone plays,” said Wolf.
Other recreation providers and resources throughout the city include Williamston Community Schools and the Williamstown Township Community Park. These expand the city’s recreational reach, offering extensive facilities and opportunities for children in gymnasiums, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, football fields and open turf areas.
These facilities forward the goals outlined in the 2019-2023 Parks and Recreation Master Plan of providing recreation opportunities that are well maintained and accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
As the plan states, Williamston has set preliminary goals of creating community through recreation and encouraging an active lifestyle in residents and will continue striving to reach these in years to come.