Gainesville Arts & Parks Foundation Receives $5,000 from County for Summer Heatwave
In early January, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to award $5,000 in funds to the Gainesville Arts & Parks (GAP) Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to support the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs (PRCA) Department’s Master Plan which includes program support, to support the annual Summer Heatwave program. The Heatwave program takes place each year from June through August, targeting youth 11-18 years old. The program includes basketball tournaments, pool parties, life skills classes, character education and field trips to local museums, farms and fish camps.
In 2015, more than 500 teens participated in the Summer Heatwave Camp. “The goal of the Summer Heatwave program is to provide positive and safe recreational activities for teens during the summer months,” says City of Gainesville Recreation Manager Shannon Keleher. “The Summer Heatwave program gives teens a place to come together and have fun while learning specific life skills such as etiquette, resume writing and how to handle their finances,” Keleher said.
The Summer Heatwave program is a partnership between the City of Gainesville’s PRCA Department, Gainesville Police Department (GPD) and the State Attorney’s Office. The partnership offers youth the opportunity to build positive relationships with law enforcement that carry over into the school year. Gretchen Casey, from the State Attorney’s Office, states, “For the past eight years, during the times that Heatwave Basketball program operated, the occurrence of juvenile crimes was lower than other times throughout the year. I think it is quite possible that Heatwave was responsible for at least some of the drop in juvenile offenses during the hours of 6 and 10 p.m., late June through late August.”
Summer Heatwave has been featured as a best practice for building partnerships and community impact by the National Recreation and Park Association.
The City of Gainesville looks to further the success of the program to help even more youth. With additional funding, the radius of service can be broadened to other neighborhoods where youth can benefit from the positive activities and life skills development.
For more information about the Summer Heatwave program or how you can help, please call 352-334-5067.