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Cedar Rapids Rollin' Recmobile program will keep going this winter

Recreational van brought fun to about 4,000 youths last summer

A child makes use of an outdoor game provided by the Rollin' Recmobile at a city park this summer. The Cedar Rapids Park
A child makes use of an outdoor game provided by the Rollin’ Recmobile at a city park this summer. The Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation department is hoping to expand the summer program to two vans next year and also provide outdoor activities this winter, if the pandemic allows. (City of Cedar Rapids photo)
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Recreational programs successfully rolled through city neighborhoods in a new van for the first time this summer with the launch of the city of Cedar Rapids’ Rollin’ Recmobile program.

The vehicle — full of sports and recreational equipment, games and books — began venturing into neighborhood parks in June to entertain youth and bring the fun to them.

Many of the Parks and Recreation summer programs were canceled because of COVID-19, and new van filled some gaps.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Hock said the van’s stops were aimed at children who were home for the summer, staying with older siblings or at home alone while their parents work, and without access to transportation.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart said he brought the idea back from the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a conference of mayors and other experts in urban planning, economic development and other issues, that met in Charleston, S.C. in 2019.

“There is an issue with transportation, and this gets rid of that issue,” Hart said. “The Rollin’ Recmobile, it comes to you instead of you having to go to it, so that’s a big part of it.”

What’s happened since

The recreational van attracted nearly 2,200 youths — who made around 4,000 visits — this summer, according to the Parks and Recreation Department.

Parks and Recreation staff handed out kits and take-home activities to kids each week — such as, items to build a kite and chalk for drawing or to make hopscotch squares.

The city hopes to secure a sponsor to help provide a second van in the future, Hock said.

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“We want to be at a few more spots, or at least at a couple of the spots more often,” Hock said. “It’d be good to be at some places twice a week, our popular sites, to really activate that neighborhood and activate that park space.”

Hock said he expects more synergy around the Rollin’ Recmobile in the future now that the program has some partners.

The Boys and Girls Club helped with meal distribution, and the Cedar Rapids police and fire departments were able to connect with kids through the program, he said.

The Cedar Rapids Community Foundation and Cedar Rapids Kiwanis provided nearly $17,000 in grants to fund the Rollin’ Recmobile and programs, Hock said.

He said the department hopes to offer winter programming, pending pandemic conditions. The program has already secured a grant for snowshoes and other winter recreational items.

Hart said he hopes the city next summer can create an attraction and coordinate events like a picnic with neighborhood associations. That way, adults can mingle while staffers entertain their kids.

When people get to know their neighbors, Hart said, neighborhoods ultimately become more safe and stable.

“I really think that it can help bring neighborhoods together,” Hart said.

Cedar Rapids Rollin’ Recmobile winter schedule

All dates for Rollin’ Recmobile stops at parks are tentative, pending pandemic conditions.

Dec. 28:

11 a.m. to noon: Hidder Park, 1248 10th St. SE

1 to 2 p.m.: Twin Pines Park, 1131 Fifth St. NW

3 to 4 p.m.: Cleveland Park, 1600 Eighth Ave. SW

Dec. 29:

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11 a.m. to noon: Jackson Park, Wiley Boulevard and Jackson Drive NW

1 to 2 p.m.: Nixon Park, Northwood and Nixon drives NE

3 to 4 p.m.: Redmond Park, 1545 Third Ave. SE

Dec. 30:

11 a.m. to noon: Hayes Park, 1924 D St. SW

1 to 2 p.m.: Greene Square, 400 Fourth Ave. SE

3 to 4 p.m.: Cleveland Park

Jan. 2:

11 a.m. to noon: Hayes Park

1 to 2 p.m.: Redmond Park

3 to 4 p.m.: Twin Pines Park

Jan. 3:

11 a.m. to noon: Nixon Park

1 to 2 p.m.: Hidder Park

3 to 4 p.m.: Greene Square

Comments: (319) 398-8494; marissa.payne@thegazette.com

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