Youth is served in Neponset

Inside an iceless rink on a muggy Monday afternoon, five kids shot hoops as several hundred feet away a dozen younger children played with Lego blocks. In less than an hour many of them would head outside, spreading themselves out on a small section of Garvey Park to dance, sing and act.

And starting this fall, the same kids will have a chance to participate in a new flag football league on Friday nights and Saturdays.

The programs and opportunities for children in and around Garvey Park are largely the result of a group of pro-active parents who have won grants to set something up for their middle school-aged children and younger. They’ve purchased the Lego blocks and donated ping pong tables, televisions, and video games.

“There’s tons of things to do for the big kids,” said Adrienne Kaszanek, a Neponset neighborhood native. “There’s nothing for the little kids.” That’s why there are over 40 families signing up for the programs, including “Acting Up in the Park,” she said. “They’re begging me, [asking] why it can’t last longer,” Kaszanek said of her sons, who participate in the program.

With “Acting Up in the Park,” run by Elizabeth Rouse and funded through a grant from the city and its Boston Rocks program, the summer theater was so popular that organizers broke it into two sections: one held on Mondays and Wednesdays and another on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The children have the chance to put on a show based on the Maurice Sendak play “Really Rosie.” Next Wednesday and Thursday, while sitting down on a make-shift amphitheater on a hill in Garvey Park, parents will be able to see what their children have been up to.

The Lego block club is held on Mondays and Thursdays.

The acting and Lego programs are an outgrowth of several parents, with help from the Menino administration, gaining control of the Murphy Community Center through a reconstitution and elections of the center’s board members. The Murphy Center has also been renamed the Leahy-Holloran Community Center, after several neighborhood activists.

But the community center was being redone last year, so after talking with local pols and the Department of Conservation of Recreation, the parents were allowed to use the Devine rink as a teen center and a “satellite” campus, staffed by city youth workers and young residents hired by the parents.
Rather than compete with other programs available at the Leahy-Holloran Center, the programs are staying at the rink again this year.

“Rain or shine, there’s programming,” said Phil Carver, head of the Pope’s Hill Neighborhood Association, the group that has emerged as the driving force behind the programs.

In the fall, the Greater Neponset Flag Football League will start, made up of three divisions of boys and girls: Leprechauns (ages 4 to 6); Bulldogs (ages 7 to 9) and Shamrocks (ages 10 to 12). The Shamrock division will play games on Friday nights, while the Leprechaun and Bulldog divisions play Saturdays.
Local kids will be hired to referee the games. Registration will be set at $10, far below the $175 price tag for participation in West Roxbury’s flag football league.

“We’re writing grants, we’re hiring local kids,” Carver said. “The neighborhood association is stepping up and doing things for the community.”

More information on the flag football league can be found at leaguelineup.com/gnffl.