Once upon a time, children could look down, find two quarters on the ground and use them for a full day of fun. Some would say those days are gone. With an economy spiraling downward and unemployment skyrocketing, having fun with just 50 cents is a thing of the past. Or is it?
The Sorenson Unity Center andthe Multicultural Center, at the corner of 900 West and California Avenue, offer activities for children at prices that have probably not been seen in ages. The centers serve the community of Glendale, which is located on the west side of Salt Lake City.
“Glendale is a low income community. I love being able to give back to the kids in this area,” said Kaleigh Clark, who works in the aquatic center.
The centers are community-based facility that are owned by Salt Lake City and provide programs and services to the residents of the community.
Although they are based in the Glendale area, the community they serve is much bigger. Anyone can go to the centers and pay the same price as a local resident.
Seniors pay only 50 cents Monday through Friday mornings and a dollar during the afternoons. Children under the age of 17 can swim for 50 cents on Fridays and on the other days of the week it is only a $1.50.
“The prices are low, but families can also apply for a scholarship program,” Clark said. The scholarships are offered to children whose families qualify for government assistance, such as Medicare and food stamps. The scholarships allow the kids to participate in as many programs as they want for only $10.
In addition to low cost swimming, people can participate in basketball, soccer, snowshoeing, T-ball, softball and the list goes on and on.
“My kids love it. They have so much fun and it costs so little,” said Claudia Corona, whose children have participated in many different activities offered at the centers.
Corona used to take her kids to soccer practice there. At the time she was in need of work. She noticed they had a job opening. Within a couple weeks she was happily greeting patrons at the front desk. You will probably see her warm smile on your next visit.
“I love my job, I am able to see families come in every day smiling and having a good time,” Corona said. “It is fun seeing mothers and daughters come in to take belly dancing classes together.” Yes, for $10 you can learn to belly dance.
The Corona family spends a lot of time at the centers. Her daughter began working there as a volunteer. “She had a great time playing with the kids. She started as being a referee for youth soccer. Now she works here part time.”
Volunteers are able to participate in various sports programs as youth coaches and referees. “We love our volunteers. They do a great job with the kids,” Corona said.
Coaches at the center are asked to take a test to determine their commitment to the children. They are told to focus on sportsmanship, playing as a team and having a good time. These are not the coaches who are going to yell at your child over mistakes they make on the playing field. It’s all about having fun and learning a little in the process.
For you working parents who need a place for your child to stay out of trouble, the Sorenson Unity Center offers after-school programs for kids 5 to 13. The kids in the program take field trips, swim at the pool, hike, do arts and crafts projects and get help with homework. The center also gives the kids a safe place to learn in a connected and safe environment. These children also learn how to give back to their community.
One program allows the children in the after-school program to be involved in a pen pal program. Children at the center write to seniors who are living at the Sunday Anderson Senior Center. “The kids here are so sweet and smart. They love writing and getting the letters,” said Clarissa Warath, a lifeguard at the center.
Many thought the good old days were gone. But at the centers you can take a step back in time. Things are inexpensive and good values are being taught around every corner.