Put on by the Sparks Parks and Recreation, a drop-in playground program is being held this summer at Ardmore Park on the corner of Oddie Boulevard and 12th Street.
For just a $1, elementary-age kids are invited to play board games and sports and participate in group craft activities Monday through Friday. And considering the national average cost of daycare is $611 a month according to Runzheimer International, the program offers a viable option to parents who have to work all day and cannot afford the monthly fees of daycare.
Head counselor Sami Hanson, 17, who has volunteered for this program for the past three years, said she feels that it's a great service to children so they can get the attention they need when both parents are gone.
"When their parents go to work, the kids need a place to go," Hanson said, explaining that about 15 kids show up every day for the program. "It's nice to be there for the kids so they know they don't have to be by themselves."
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the kids are taken to swim at nearby pools at Oppio Park on 18th Street and Deer Park on the corner of Rock Boulevard and Prater Way.
Lunch is also provided for free by the Food Bank of Northern Nevada Kid's Cafe program. Meals are well balanced and nutritious, with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milk, cutting down on junk food that kids might eat when not supervised by their parents.
FBNN staff members agree that the playground program is a great opportunity for parents who are used to only having to provide one meal a day when school is in session.
"It's hard when summer comes around and parents who work all day don't have time to feed their kids," said Taiya Satcher, a FBNN staff member, noting that they typically hand out 70 to 80 lunches each day. "It's great just to be able to feed the kids."
Cindy Brantner, the recreation specialist for the city of Sparks, said the program, which has been running for the past 10 years, is a safe summer option for kids to remain active.
"This program really keeps kids from getting into trouble," Brantner said. "It allows them to interact with other kids and gets them outside of the house where they would be limited to watching TV."
And while budget cuts have been affecting other community programs, Brantner said the program has not been touched.
"This is important to the community," Brantner said. "It helps out a lot of families that really need it."
The program is run on a drop-in basis and children are free to come and go.
Most group field trips are coordinated at nearby venues that are within walking distance for the children and lasts until Aug. 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays.
For more information, visit the city of Sparks Web site at www.ci.sparks.nv.us.