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Through the city Parks and Recreation Department, youngsters will soon be shooting hoops and grabbing rebounds.

COURTESY PHOTO: ST. HELENS PARKS AND RECREATION  - Kids in St. Helens can learn soccer skills at an early age. Warm weather has (finally) arrived and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, so both adults and kids in St. Helens will be having fun with summer sports activities this year, held through the St. Helens Parks and Recreation Department.

Getting ready for a busy summer, Shanna Duggan, the department's manager, said, "We're offering a summer basketball program for kids entering third grade through eighth grade." Summer basketball will be a six-week program that starts the week of July 11.

"It's broken into some co-ed age groups," Duggan said. "We are doing one day a week for each team."

Kids will practice skills and drills during the first 15 to 30 minutes, then scrimmage against another team for the remaining 30 minutes.

"We usually do a winter basketball league, but this is our first year of doing summer," Duggan said, adding, "We wanted to do something this summer active for the kids, but also know that a lot of people have plans in the summer, so they don't like to commit to a huge program. That's why we're doing it just the one day a week."

Unfortunately, space is limited in the program, Duggan added.

"We are putting together teams now," she said. "People are welcome to contact us to see if we have any room, but it is pretty limited based on the adult volunteers that we have."

Noting that the pandemic, and shutdowns, have had an impact on young kids, Duggan is hopeful that the kids who participate will enjoy the chance to get out in the community and play some basketball.

"This will be a good way for them to get their skill set up and see if they enjoy basketball before enrolling in the winter league that we have — that has a little bit more of a time commitment," Duggan said. "I think it will be great for kids to interact with each other outside of school."

In addition to summer basketball, St. Helens will be offering a Playground Pals program at McCormick Park for kids up to the age of 12.

"We'll have physical activities like kickball and volleyball," Duggan added, noting this free activity, open to anybody, will be held Fridays in July.

The Parks and Recreation Department also started its first adult softball league, which is going on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

About 250 adults are signed up for the softball program.

Duggan expects more of a normal recreational feel this summer, considering that COVID restrictions have been loosened.

"I think a lot of people, in the last two years, from our standpoint, have turned more inward to their community, to see what is offered out here," Duggan said. "We're seeing an uptick, thankfully … we're seeing more volunteers and people wanting to do more things locally in the community."

For more information about Parks and Recreation programs, visit sthelensoregon.gov/parksrec.


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