Pottstown residents generally agree that providing fun, healthy activities and youth mentorship strengthens the community and helps youths stay on a positive path – rather than out “on the streets.”
Thanks to a Philadelphia-based charitable organization, Pottstown children and families will have monthly opportunities to gather throughout the Borough for themed “Pop-up Fun Nights” featuring a variety of games, recreational activities, and other entertainment as well as refreshments.
Hobart’s Run and The Hill School have been awarded a $3,500 grant by the Ellis A. Gimbel Charitable Trust, an organization whose mission is to provide entertaining, inspiring experiences to children in largely underserved communities.
The idea for the Pop-Up Fun Nights was shaped in part by Hill and Pottstown School District students who participated in the Spring Pottstown Area Social Innovations Lab (PASIL) program organized by Twila Fisher, director of community and economic development for Hobart’s Run. PASIL’s goal is to encourage the entrepreneurial young participants to work in small teams and develop solutions addressing issues affecting Pottstown.
The grant proposed monthly children and youth-focused events that encourage exercise as well as participation in games. According to the application submitted to the Gimbel Charitable Trust, the fun nights’ success will be measured by having “a fully integrated group of Pottstown youth having good, old-fashioned fun as they play games together and form new friendships.”
The events will be planned by area youth supervised by faculty advisers and/or mentors. “Ideally,” the grant application notes, “and pending further discussion, of course, the team would form a partnership with the Olivet Boys and Girls Club at the Ricketts Center to make these activities 50 percent of the Center’s flexible programming [and also] ensure that the events involve the youths who would benefit most from the outreach activities.”
The grant funds will primarily cover the one-time cost of purchasing equipment and games that can be re-used for years to come – including giant “bubble soccer” balls; traditional balls, racquets, and other sports equipment; lawn games such as corn hole, spike ball, and croquet; an indoor bowling alley set; a karaoke sound system; and table games. Some events will allow participants to participate in friendly competition and earn medals.
Locations will vary and may include the Pottstown High School and Hill facilities, local churches, the Ricketts Center, and the YMCA and YWCA. Pop-up Fun Nights will begin this summer and continue monthly, ideally in coordination with other youth-focused events in Pottstown. Hobart’s Run will publicize the Pottstown Youth Pop-Up Fun Nights.
“The Gimbel Charitable Trust is delighted to provide this donation” for use in Pottstown, said Priscilla Tausig, trustee of the organization.
Fisher noted that the PASIL students who brainstormed about the Pop-Up Fun Nights are committed to seeing the events fully implemented and sincerely want to help at-risk children and teens, especially.
“There is still much work to be done to improve our community, but every little bit counts,” Fisher said. “We are so grateful to the Gimbel Trust for their generosity and support. We can help make an impact in the Borough by providing youths with positive activities and supervision – and can best succeed where there is collaboration, idea-sharing, and leadership from teens themselves.”