Activity & Engagement: Recreation director says department creating positive environment for all
Published 12:01 am Saturday, December 30, 2017
RESERVE —St. John the Baptist Parish children and adults can maintain a healthy lifestyle and form connections with others in the community by participating in sports offered by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Youth basketball games are in progress at West St. John Elementary School in Edgard and Regala Gym in Reserve, according to Kerry Watkins, director of parks and recreation.
Beginning in February, youth baseball and softball registration opens for boys ages 5 to 14 and girls ages 6 to 13. Youth soccer will be open to boys and girls ages 4 to 12.
Adults can sign up for flag football between January and February and should expect the season to run from February to April.
Watkins said recreational sports benefit participants and are a vital part of any community.
“It’s definitely important to give kids and adults an outlet to relieve stress,” Watkins said. “It builds a community culture where adults, kids and parents can get to know each other. It creates a bond and camaraderie.”
The social aspect is especially important for children who would otherwise be sitting at home in front of the TV, Watkins said.
“There are kids who are in the same grade at school but who would never talk to each other if it weren’t for recreational sports,” he said.
Other sports and activities offered annually to St. John the Baptist Parish residents include youth football, water aerobics and line dancing, open to all ages.
Watkins said older adults in the community have taken a liking to water aerobics, and many have written thank you notes to show their gratitude for the program.
Future plans include implementing track and field and volleyball programs, according to Watkins. It is undetermined whether the programs will make their debut during the 2018 recreational season, but Watkins isn’t ruling out the possibility.
He said the future of St. John’s Parks and Recreation looks bright.
Since Watkins became director in 2015, a girl’s softball team has been implemented and private football teams have come together under the unified recreation system.
Enrollment numbers are steadily increasing across all sports, Watkins said, noting youth basketball alone has 240 participants, an increase of 25-30 from last year.
Watkins attributes the program’s success to strength in planning.
“It’s about the structure, the culture and the organization of the programs we offer,” Watkins said. “We’re creating a positive environment for the kids of the parish. We’d like to see people continue to support the youth.”
He said the success of recreational programs rely on community involvement providing volunteer coaches and instructors for teams.
Those who wish to volunteer or learn more information can contact Parks and Recreation at 985-652-9569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comprehensive information on sports, registration, rosters and game schedules are available at sjbparish.com/parks_index.php.