HEALTH

Oxford Park Commission works to improve programs and facilities during social distancing

children playing basketball
children playing basketball

Donnetta Johnson
Oxford Stories
dsjohns1@go.olemiss.edu

Oxford resident Jarkel Joiner, 20, is a member of the Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Team. But he got his start playing on youth teams with the Oxford Park Commission. He said the OPC helped him build his skills.

“The OPC has been another home gym for me,” he said. “I have been playing there since I could pick up a basketball. It was a way I could escape schoolwork … and what was going on at home.”

Today, many young athletes who were planning on playing on OPC teams and participating in OPC events have put their plans on hold because of the novel coronavirus.

All youth sports, classes for both youth and adults, and any open gym session is on hold or has been canceled because of the impact of COVID-19.

Leaders say they will spend this time working to improve their programming, making changes to the facility and enforcing the cleanliness of spaces and machines.

The OPC strives to improve the quality of the life for Oxford citizens by providing comprehensive recreational and leisure programs. It offers facilities and programs for children and adults that encourage the development of positive participation and sportsmanship attitudes.

Community Relations Director John Davis, who has been living in Oxford since 1996, said many OPC events were scheduled before the coronavirus arrived.

“One of them was the Easter Egg Hunt on April 11,” Davis said.

Events like these gave Oxford residents a chance to spend and enjoy the time together with their families. 

“We just appreciate the patience of the community during this time,” Davis said. “We’re as frustrated about being closed down as anyone else, but we want everyone to remain healthy and happy.”

Oxford resident Chris Ayers, who has faithfully brought his son to OPC facilities many times for basketball practice, said it’s a peaceful environment where children can thrive.

“When I walked in, the lady at the front desk was nice and greeted me and my family,” Ayers said. ‘If you are worried about how the staff and volunteers will treat your child, you have no worries with the OPC.”

Since Oxford is such a small town, Ayers said he was shocked by how many kids participated in OPC programs. It gave his family a sense of relief.

“I think the recreation center is a great way for kids to be able to play basketball or other sports, especially if sports is an outlet for them,” he said. “My son will definitely be back.”

For more information about the OPC, visit their website at this link.

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