COLUMBIA - If you drive around North Columbia, you may run into a few small parks and an occasional makeshift basketball court, but with most organized after school activities located in Central Columbia, kids in the northern parts of town don't always have the resources to get involved.
Second Ward City Councilman Michael Trapp said the board reached out and formed some community meetings in areas that have historically had more crime and poverty.
"We know keeping kids engaged in positive activities is a great way to keep them out of crimes and drugs and mischief," Trapp said. "A lot of these resources are in the central city, and the kids on the north side don't have an access to participate."
Shawna Neurner, a lifelong Columbia resident, said the community had a meeting last week to discuss some of the needs in North Columbia. Neurner said the meeting brought up ideas such as bringing libraries, community centers and after school programs to the northern part of town.
"One of the things we're hoping for is some sort of organized activities to make sure that they are getting good influences on those kids and helping focus their time to make sure their studies are getting done as well as getting those times to expel energy through some sports," Neurner said.
Neurner added she sees lots of kids playing basketball, riding scooters or just walking and gathering outside. She said a program could be helpful because "even though they're entertaining themselves right now, it's maybe not the safest way to do it."
Currently there is a program in North Columbia called "Adventure Club" located at different elementary schools in Columbia. Trapp said it is a good program, but not all kids have access to it because there is a cost to admission. However, Trapp said he is interested in starting a program that does everything "Adventure Club" does, but instead is free or low-cost.
As for the time frame to when this program may be created, Trapp said it wouldn't be anytime soon.
"We have some enthusiastic neighbors and some good community support, but we don't have a budget or a volunteer organization or that track record of success yet," Trapp said.
Trapp said the next step is to get a group together to visit and get ideas from an after school program in Kirksville.
"There's a lot of energy and enthusiasm, so we want to build on that and we want to learn more and start doing our planning and see if there's enough support to be able to pull something like that off," Trapp said.