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More MS news articles for July 2003

Residents flocking to recreational program

Thursday, July 3, 2003
By Rick Wills

Avonworth area residents such as Susan Stewart no longer have to visit Sewickley or Cranberry to participate in recreational programs.
They can now participate in programs the Avonworth Shared Recreational Services Association has expanded over the past year.

The association's program offerings are likely to expand even more later this year when Ohio Township's recreation complex, which will include a nature center and several athletic fields, is completed. The complex is being built in Ohio Township's Municipal Park off Nicholson Road.

Stewart, who lives in Ohio Township, and dozens of other people participate in yoga classes once a week at Avonworth Community Park.

"It is great to be able to get a yoga class in five minutes," said Stewart, who has multiple sclerosis and finds that yoga relaxes her more than any other type of exercise.

Yoga is the most popular of the many classes that are offered in the recreation program, said Jennifer Drake, director of the association's recreation program, who was hired 18 months ago.

Last year, 225 people participated in the association's summer programs, which are mostly based out of the community park and are financially self-supporting. The activities offered this year include everything from scuba certification to candlemaking classes and kickboxing.

Most activities start in July and run through Labor Day.

The association also sponsors several day trips to places such as PNC Park and Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County, a popular site for hiking and whitewater rafting. A trip to the Greektown casino in Detroit also is scheduled.

The association also offers discounted trips to Kennywood, Sandcastle and Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio.

"People are really taking advantage of the discount ticket program," said Drake, who also said she expects just as much interest in this summer's programs as last year's.

"People are figuring out that we are offering many activities, that they no longer have to go out of the area to learn how to scuba dive or play volleyball," she said.

Until early last year, recreation programs had been scant in the Avonworth community. There had been no recreation director for several years.

The association's activities are not limited to the summer. In the fall, 125 people participated in the recreation program. In winter, there were 117 participants. Spring classes saw 514 people take part.

Drake, who grew up in Mars and worked as a Special Olympics coach near Atlanta, took over as recreation director in February 2002.

Avonworth Shared Recreation was founded five years ago to broaden recreation offerings in the five communities that make up the Avonworth School District.

Copyright © 2003, Tribune-Review