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West Allis program saw even more fun in the summer sun

Rec department head says participation continued to grow

Sept. 17, 2013

West Allis — The West Allis-West Milwaukee Recreation Department's summer program continued its growth spurt this year.

Shelly Strasser, the district's recreation director, told the School Board recently that this summer's numbers contributed to the 28 percent increase in participation overall in the last five years. In the aquatics program especially, she added, "We're almost outgrowing ourselves."

Similarly, the summer SAFE Camp offering sports, swimming, crafts and hikes had more than 2,000 children this summer.

"We're almost to the point where we need to start to talk about two separate camps," she said.

In addition, the new Safety Town for ages 4 and 5 showed a lot of promise, Strasser said. Each day focused on how to be safe in different situations, whether that involves cats, dogs or traffic.

"We hope to grow that program," she said.

In addition, a basketball tournament that had fizzled in recent years seems to have revived this year, with nine teams competing. Holding the tournament during the National Night Out celebration in late July seemed to held, Strasser said.

Overall, the summer program's highest percentage of participation was among 6-year-olds, followed closely by 7-year-olds. The highest school representations in the programs was from Walker Elementary School, she said, with Jefferson Elementary in second place.

If a school participation lags or drops off, the Recreation Department now has a process in place to find out why, Strasser said. And a new online registration process will make that even easier to evaluate what programs work overall, she added.

The recreation program also was able to add partners to help sponsor programs. The list now includes the West Allis-West Milwaukee Old-timers Baseball Association, Madjecki's Sentry, the Butorac Family Foundation, West Allis Charities, Sport Pics, Heiser Chevrolet, Hunger Task Force, Kohl's Department Stores and the Arby's Foundation.

Superintendent Kurt Wachholz said the report made him even more glad that the district fought hard to keep local control over the recreation program, when the State Legislature was considering measures that would have dramatically affected it.

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