NARROWSBURG, NY — On July 13, the playground in the Flats—a residential neighborhood in Tusten—beamed with brightly colored slips of paper, pinned to chain-link fences and garden …
NARROWSBURG, NY — On July 13, the playground in the Flats—a residential neighborhood in Tusten—beamed with brightly colored slips of paper, pinned to chain-link fences and garden mesh.
Kids around the area had spent a little over an hour coming up with ideas for improving their communities and writing those ideas on the slips of paper. Twenty to 30 kids of all ages contemplated questions like, “What do you do for fun?” and “What do you want to see in your town?”
Their answers described actions, objects and locations that kids valued. Maybe some of the ideas existed in reality, or maybe they were futures the kids wanted to see.
What do kids want to see in their town?
- I come [to the park] to play with my friends from camp. I wish there was a rock wall.
- I come for the park, Halloween sometimes and movies. [I’d want] soccer, I think. Maybe a designated soccer field.
- Here in this place I come for world-renowned 3 ft long worms. Fish love ‘em!
- A shady gazebo area for eating and sitting [and a] drive-in movie theater
- An indoor pool with a diving board and a waterslide
- An art studio: yellow, air conditioned, [with a] comfortable chair—blue
- A music studio with instruments
- [A] ping pong table in a re-modeled storage container
- Extensions or additions to the library—more books
- A place to exhibit art
Kids of all ages appreciated opportunities for biking and skating around town. They were an active group, appreciating fishing and hanging out with their friends, while also spending time inside with video games and movies.
A lot of requests centered on more ways to be active or to explore the arts.
Younger kids suggested a rock wall or an obstacle course, an art and music studio and an arcade and play room, among other ideas. Older kids had more specific ideas about what a game room might look like—it could include a foosball table, a ping-pong table or an air hockey table—and they wanted more space and equipment for community games of soccer, baseball or basketball.
And kids overwhelmingly wanted a pool—whether as a water park, a splash pool or just a place to go swimming.
The evening’s discussions were part of a series called “Let’s Talk.”
The Tusten Youth Commission and the River Reporter co-hosted the event, which followed up on a booth the River Reporter set up at the youth commission’s Fourth of July festival.
The evening’s goal: to get kids’ thoughts on the shape of their futures, to help guide the adults who could turn those ideas into reality.
Tusten’s comprehensive plan—a document last revised in 2021 that helps guide the town’s zoning and planning—noted that the number of youth in the area is declining, and recommended attention to retraining and attracting a young cohort.
Inspired by the comprehensive plan, “Let’s Talk” wants to enlist kids in fleshing out local opportunities for youth recreation and engagement.
“We’re looking to get ideas of how this field can be improved, and to... really recognize that it’s the youth in this community who we want to give a voice to,” said River Reporter publisher Laurie Stuart as she introduced the event. “We can all help together to elevate [kids’] voice and bring some things into fruition.”
“Let’s Talk” invited youth to be stakeholders in their own community, engaging them in envisioning what the future of that community could look like. A number of kids raised their hands at the end of the evening’s programming, when asked if they wanted to participate further in the form of a kid committee. Narrowsburg elders, including long-time Little League coach Bob Bunnell and Bernie Creamer, turned out with newcomers to the community and expressed interest in the intergenerational effort. Bunnell is looking to memorialize the field to the three firemen—Paul Brock, Brett Hankins and Jay Lairia, all good ball players—who died on June 29, 1979 when returning from a parade in Montrose, PA.
The River Reporter will have a table at Riverfest, on July 24 in Narrowsburg, gathering feedback and information to help create future programs. To learn more about “Let’s Talk,” or to participate in future events, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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