Smiles brightly beamed as local kids tossed water balloons, took part in a game show, and enjoyed free prizes.
“It was awesome,” said Ofa Paletua, 10, from Creekside Middle School.
“No! It was better than awesome,” chimed Philip Cantu, 12, from Creekside Middle School.
“It was more than awesome. It was super awesome. No, don’t write that down. It was more than that,” said Ofa, laughing with his friends.
“It was fantastic!” finished Philip.
Many of the students couldn’t contain their excitement and would erupt in fits of giggles that would affect the entire crowd.
Compared to the minimum day event that was parlayed three weeks prior, this one wrangled in waves of students that succeeded throughout the afternoon.
Many students said it was a fun event because they now had the chance to hang out with kids who were outside their grades, or were not on the same lunch schedule or in the same classes.
“I love today,” said Onesty Garcia, 11, of Creekside Middle School. “I got to win stuff in a hula hoop contest and my friends are with me. It’s a lot of fun.”
Even Mayor Luis Molina made an appearance and took part in a game show put on DJ Rob Pacheco of T.N.T. Productions.
Students enjoyed partaking in Pacheco’s challenging questions and often rose to the occasion, while learning something new.
“I don’t know where he gets the questions from,” said Molina. “They are pretty challenging.”
DJ Rob also found a noticeable difference in the kid’s demeanor this time around as well, and felt that the city’s success was measured by the growing attendance.
“There are definitely more kids than last time,” said Pacheco. “I’m glad these kids would rather spend their time here than being in different spots throughout town.”
Despite working with limited funding, the Patterson Recreation and Community Services Department knows the meaning of persistence, and continues to push forward with their scheduled minimum day events for the youth, eager to keep the kids actively engaged in their community.
“We are glad to get the word out about YAC (Youth Action Committee) and I think it’s important that the adults of the community influence the youth,” said Kristen Skopec, teen center and event recreation specialist. “Everyone is really pulling together and increasing their level of support.”
Skopec added that many kids at the youth center will now have more opportunities to have fun throughout the week, and announced that there will be several field trips, games, karaoke and open mic nights in the near future.
Each week, the teen center also hopes a new sponsor will become a co-coordinator to relieve the financial burden. This week, district coordinator for Patterson’s After School Program, Alysonn Cassidy, took part in the afternoon celebration, where smiles and laughter were shared all around.
“We wanted to provide multiple opportunities to engage these kids in after school activities,” said Cassidy. “Kids can go eat lunch anytime they want, and come back to play games until 3 p.m. It’s a great effort. I’d rather them be here to compared to being in an unsafe place making unsafe choices.”
Molina also felt that engaging with the youth is a key concept to curbing the next generation’s efforts for Patterson’s future.
“As a community, we need to come together to support our youth,” he said. “If you take the chance to come out here, it will make a difference. We must be patient and supporting these efforts. Together we can make a better tomorrow.”
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or firstname.lastname@example.org.