The Sandy Springs Diversity & Inclusion Task Force will present its latest findings and recommendations at the March 1 City Council meeting.

The task force approved a report from its communications subcommittee during its Feb. 8 meeting. A housing subcommittee report had previously been approved.

The Sandy Springs Recreation and Parks Department has emphasized children’s programs.

Task Force Chairman Jim Bostic will take those reports, and the latest version of a recreation subcommittee report, to create one presentation for the meeting.

Bostic and a few other task force members will try to meet with new City Manager Eden Freeman also.

The city is partnering with five nonprofit community groups of Sandy Springs through a grant program, Task Force member Clarissa Sparks said. She told the task force that Recreation and Parks Director Mike Perry told her the grants will fund new and expanded programs to increase the reach to the community.

“All of the programs are targeted to serve the underserved populations here in our low-income communities,” she said.

The City Council awarded the grants at its Feb. 1 meeting. Those grants included:

·        $30,000 for Horizons Atlanta to expand a summer learning program at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School by 15 students.

·        $30,000 for Los Ninos Primero to fund a new family performing arts and music program that will serve 150 low-income, Latino families. Programs are provided at no cost to participants.

·        $30,000 for two programs by Northside Youth Organization – $15,000 to provide 28 scholarships for children to cover the registration, participation, and equipment needed to be involved in the selected sports. Another $15,000 to introduce sports by providing free camps and clinics for up to 66 underserved students.

·        $1,500 for Sandy Springs Charter Middle School Foundation, with $1,200 for the newly formed golf team to purchase six sets of clubs; and $300 to expand a badminton program.

·        $30,000 for the Healthy Youth USA Foundation $30,000 for a new summer camp program for 65 elementary age children.

Sparks said Perry told her the city has focused on children’s programming.

She discussed the recreation survey conducted late last year and its results with Perry and they came to some conclusions.

“We think that there can be great improvement there by generating more brand awareness of the programs and then of the facilities,” Sparks said. “So, we’re going to work together closely to see what communication plans we can develop for these summer activities to increase enrollment into the summer programs.”

A 25-member focus group will be formed with the help of Solidarity Sandy Springs to learn how minority residents can be reached about the city’s recreation programs, and how to encourage them to participate, she said. The focus group will meet in March and the recreation subcommittee’s report will be updated from what is learned and suggested.

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Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.