MILWAUKEE — Tyqan Drain, 19, has grown up at the Franklin Square Playfield.
“I’ve been here at least since I was four years old,” Drain said.
That’s when he started going to Milwaukee Recreation’s Free Summer Playground Program.
The playground program, Drain said, gives kids an opportunity — not only in his neighborhood, but across the city of Milwaukee — the chance to not fall into bad habits.
“It makes you feel like you’ve actually done something with your life instead of being in the streets all day every day, because that’s all we’re used to,” Drain said. “To make a change, it only takes one person, you know?”
For Drain, he points to that one person as his cousin, Cortez Brown.
Brown is a playground leader at Franklin Square. Originally from Chicago, Brown moved to Milwaukee in the mid-2000s, and started going to different summer programs, including what is now the free summer playground program.
“I was one of them kids, I didn’t necessarily have food at home so I needed to rely on places like this,” Brown said. “I needed to rely on my Boys and Girls Club.”
Now, he gets the chance to give back to his community. He shoots hoops with the kids at the playground, helping them out on the court, but also works to teach them the importance of staying off the streets.
“It’s really like family. It’s community. It’s bringing these folks together,” Brown said. “I want these parents to know that when you drop your kids off, they will be safe because of the people who are here. I’ve been here 10 years. Miss Sharon has been here longer than I’ve been alive. We want to make this place better.”
The summer playground program is available at 15 different playgrounds across Milwaukee. It provides kids with a recreational outlet to play, swing, shoot hoops, or even cool down by using the splash pads.
Derek Donlevy is the recreation supervisor of community centers and playgrounds. He says the program is always looking to improve on what it offers to the community — and be affordable.
“We’re here to serve the community and we know that the community needs us, so affordability is a big thing in everything that we do to make the community a better place,” Donlevy said.
For Lori Woods, who takes her grandchildren to the park, the free playground program great opportunity to make sure she knows her kids are safe and getting fed when she and her family have to go to work.
“Space is limited all around,” Woods said. “This place opens up and there are community kids. I recommend parents that are struggling with day care costs, struggling with babysitters. This is a great program for the city.”
She hopes more families take advantage of it to keep their kids having fun and keep them safe, without breaking the bank.
For a list of where the playground program is being held, click here.