Last summer, the Near West Recreation League's t-ball league was a hit for Cleveland kids. Organizers believe a recently debuted bowling league will play a similarly big "roll" in the health of a community that didn't have much in the way of organized sports.
The bowling program, open to 70-plus youngsters between the ages of 6 and 10, launched February 16 at Corner Alley
in downtown Cleveland. The league is part of a two-year partnership between Ohio Savings Bank
and Ohio City Inc
. to support recreation activities on the Near West Side. Downtown Cleveland Alliance
is also a partner in the new program.
The bowling league was created for children from Tremont, Detroit Shoreway and other West Side enclaves, although similar to the t-ball league, kids have been coming from other parts of the city to participate.
"Sports are a great way of bringing people together at a young age," says Eric Wobser, executive director of Ohio City Inc.
They're also a method of keeping people in the neighborhood, maintain the rec league's leaders. Retaining young families in the 25- to 34-age group has been problematic for Ohio City and downtown. Sports can be another amenity that grows a neighborhood population, while also integrating a community of diverse backgrounds.
"It's improving the quality of life," Wobser says.
If the bowling league proves successful, the rec league will add other sports throughout the year. Plans for the remainder of 2013 include youth-oriented baseball, soccer and basketball. The league may "age up" as well, from young kids all the way to junior high students.
"We've struck a chord with the community," says Wobser.
SOURCE: Eric Wobser
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth