Twin Cities Rec Centers Take In Out-Of-School Students

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — All 47 Minneapolis recreation centers opened at noon Monday for students whose classes were canceled due to the cold. They typically open at 3 p.m.

“We look at ourselves like an essential service for our community,” said Al Bangoura, director of recreation programs and services for Minneapolis Parks and Recreation.

The recreation centers also opened four of their child care programs early in response to the school closures. Bangoura says last Thursday when schools were canceled, they had 40 to 50 young children at one location.

On Jan. 6, when Gov. Mark Dayton ordered all schools closed after seeing a high of -15, recreation centers were running on regular hours.

“As cold as it was, we had kids coming to centers at noon and they were knocking on the doors,” Bangoura said. “We knew at that point that this is really incredible service for our community.”

Daniel Denham goes to school in St. Paul. He was visiting his father over the weekend in north Minneapolis and was stuck there because of blizzard like conditions on Sunday. He didn’t want to stay at home, so he headed to the Farview Community Center a few blocks away on Lyndale.

“I like to play, workout, jog and play basketball,” Daniel Denham said. “I have nothing to do. No one likes to sit in the house and having nothing to do. At least I don’t.”

However, the cancellations are getting tiring for students, according to Daniel and his younger sister Kayla, 16, who attends Highland Park Senior High School in St. Paul.

“I don’t like it. We get behind in our homework and we get confused in school,” Kayla Denham said. “It just really has a big impact on us.”

She plays basketball at Highland Park and is scared her season could be in jeopardy due to the closures. Daniel says he’s looking forward to spring and getting back on a normal schedule.

“There’s not too much we can do about it,” Daniel said.

All Minneapolis recreation centers will open at noon on Tuesday Jan 28th. In St. Paul, all city-operated recreation centers will also open on Tuesday, Jan. 28 for extended hours, including their open swim time at the Great River Water Park.

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