Durham Parks and Rec works to bring youth back as participation is down significantly since COVID

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Several programs are back up and running at Durham Parks and Recreation centers since the pandemic hit, but participation is still down significantly.

In 2019, 2,682 youth and teens ages 5 to 18 were enrolled in programs at Durham Parks and Recreation centers for that year, according to data from DPR.

The following year in 2020, that number dropped down to 505 and this year only 447 youth and teens have participated in their programs.

When looking at DPR participation by teenagers ages 13-18, in 2019 a total of 1,204 individuals were enrolled in their programs. In 2020, that number dropped down to 244 and so far this year 140 teenagers have participated.

“Shortly after the COVID pandemic started, we decided to pause all of our programming,” said Jason Jones, assistant director of Durham Parks and Recreation.

Now that life has started to return to normal, he said they are now tasked with the challenge of getting youth and teens back in the centers.

“Many of the teens who were making their own decisions, when they weren’t able to come, have found other things to do,” Jones said.

He said some individuals may be hesitant to come back in person because the pandemic still is not over.

Jones also said they are short on recreation service aids and facility supervisors, and lifeguards for their aquatic programs.

Jones said this shortage of staff has had an impact on programs that are available to the community.

“It’s caused some challenges with the number of participants that can come,” Jones said.

But Jones said they are doing what they can to fill these positions and to let the community know they have programs back open and that they are safe.

“Things are being sanitized more frequently,” Jones said. “We have learned a lot about how to program differently and meet the changing needs of the community.”

For more information on Durham Parks and Recreation’s programs and activities go to their website.

For more information on how to apply for positions with Durham Parks and Recreation, go to the city’s employment website.

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