Savannah alderman pushing for more youth recreational opportunities, access to facilities

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A councilman is asking for some unprecedented cooperation between the City of Savannah, Chatham County and public schools to create recreation opportunities for kids.

District 4 Alderman Julian Miller says it's simple; when kids have something to do after school to keep them occupied, they're more likely to stay out of trouble and away from a life of crime.

Parents of players with the Savannah Royal Lions youth sports team agree wholeheartedly.

"Trouble is easy to get in, and hard to get out. But when you have specific programs set up like this for the kids, it makes it easier for them to look at, like wow, I can become a basketball player or I can become a football player if I want. This is good sportsmanship for the kids to help with development," said Savannah Royal Lions player's parent, Lequanda Youmans.

But the Royal Lions, along with many other youth sports teams, struggle to find access to adequate recreational facilities and have for years.

"They gave us this place to practice because nobody wants to practice out here at Lake Mayer, due to the ant beds and everything else that's going on out here," said Savannah Royal Lions Youth Organization Coach Todd Rhodes.

From a facilities standpoint, Alderman Miller points out between the city, county and school district there's no shortage of places for the youth sports leagues and clubs to practice and play.

"We have them here on this map! Between the city, the county and the Board of Education, we have plenty of facilities. We don't make them available," said Alderman Miller.

Miller is working to change that by introducing a policy proposal at council this week that would get all three entities working together to support after school activities for the youth of Savannah and Chatham County.

"Sports is just a tool to reach the child. It's more than that. We want to teach them some life lessons, and not only that, we also want to give them something positive to do. And teach them some life things that they need, especially nowadays. They need somebody that's positive, that's encouraging them," said Rhodes.

Proposed cooperation between the city, county and school district when it comes to recreation programs isn't a new idea.  Alderman Miller says it just hasn't gotten any traction in years past because, in part, there's only been a memorandum of understanding, not a set policy.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.