In Another Year of Record Breaking Participation, Tampa Parks “Stay & Play” Remains a Summer Success

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In June of 2015, Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced two significant Parks initiatives to help keep kids safe throughout the summer by extending hours of parks facilities and providing free recreation cards (“Rec Cards”). Both programs continued during the Summer of 2016 becoming even more successful than in 2015.

“After the success of last year, we knew we had to continue this innovative program,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “I’ve said it before, we believe that 'Stay & Play' saves lives. Members of our Parks & Rec team create an safe environment for Tampa’s kids who would otherwise spend their nights playing on the streets. Parks & Rec staff become mentors to these teens by keeping Tampa’s youth active with educational programming. The record numbers this year just further enforce the need to keep it going.”

"Our staff understands the importance of the Stay and Play Program so they reached out to our teen community to find out what programs they would like,” said Recreation Manager John Allen. "With suggestions from the teens, we offered a variety of programs such as culinary arts, musical expression, dance, athletic leagues, field trips, additional pool openings, community partners, guest speakers and professional athlete participation.  With the advanced planning, healthy meals at no cost and marketing on social media, we were able to increase attendance by 30%.  Keeping Tampa's teens active and safe is paramount for our community, we look forward to the programs ongoing success."

The original goal of ‘Stay & Play’ was to help curb the rising tide of violence as summer started last year. We gave kids a choice to be a part of a safe, productive, and fun environment, and it was an overwhelming success. 

From June 13th  to August 8, 2016, 21,916 kids participated in the City of Tampa’s “Stay & Play” programming at fourteen different city facilities, and 1,075 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 years old signed up for free “Rec Cards”.

The “Rec Cards” are good for one year and allow for access into facilities and programming, including free After School programs during the school year.

These numbers are in addition to the 2,739 kids who attended the City’s traditional summer camps and the 3,929 who attended the specialty camps.

The City also increased the number of scholarships available this summer providing a total of 1,798 kids with scholarships totaling over $86,000.

Keeping Our Kids Safe

City of Tampa Police and Parks and Recreation Security worked together throughout the summer to keep all participating youth safe. There were no incidents at any of the nine participating facilities.

Extended Hours Continue This Fall
Building off the summer success, the following recreation centers will be open on the weekends throughout the fall, providing extended Saturday and Sunday hours previously not offered:

  • Copeland Park Community Center, 11001 North 15th Street
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 2200 North Oregon Avenue
  • Jackson Heights Community Center, 3310 East Lake Avenue
  • Springhill Community Center, 1000 East Eskimo Avenue

Free “Rec Cards” will continue.

Activities will be in a semi-structured environment and vary by location. Those activities will range from sporting activities like basketball to arts and guest speakers.
The anticipated cost for the extension of school-year hours is approximately $100,000.