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'Wreck' community support strong; funding needed before its launch

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Mari Jo Lohmeier and Kim Harmon, captains of The Wreck, report they are moving forward, bolstered by the community's waves of enthusiasm.

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The two are proposing a youth activities center for Park Rapids. The Wreck with "rec" - recreation - at the heart of the initiative is now in the fundraising and community awareness stage.

The Park Rapids "youth zone" project is modeled after the Backyard in Detroit Lakes, "a safe center where kids can engage in physical activity and families can connect, play and discover."

Open year 'round, the facility plans call for an indoor playground, gym space, a laser maze, youth lounge, inflatables and a snack bar.

The target audience is families with young children, grade school and middle kids and high school students, as well as civic organizations involved with youth.

Kids can play, while parents are engaged in activities such as Pilates, Bible study or crafts. Day cares would have access to the enterprise.

"There is strong, strong community support for this," Lohmeier said.

Surveys sent home with kids last spring resulted in 300 being completed. The respondents asked for after-school programs, a place for teens and a site for families to connect.

"Everyone talked about the lack of space for exercise classes, sports practice," and other activities, Lohmeier said.

Kids themselves have gotten into the action.

Members of Century Middle School Student Council are hosting a dodge ball tournament, beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 at Century.

Teams of five will play in four divisions, fifth and sixth grade, seventh and eighth grade, high school and "young at heart" adults.

For more information or to register, e-mail parkrapidswreck@gmail.com.

An awareness campaign will be staged during Halloween trick or treat sites this year.

And presentations at civic groups are being made to inform the public.

The Wreck, with a location yet to be determined, will be set up as a non-profit, the group filing for 501(c)3 status.

Meanwhile, participation and ideas are welcome.

The board of directors, comprised of Molly Aukes, Matt Kaufenberg, Aarin Galzki and Lohmeier and Harmon, meets at 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Sundays of the month at St. Johns Lutheran Church.

To date, the Hewitt Foundation has pledged matching funds of $500 with a ceiling of $15,000. Private donations have been made and the Wolf Lake Wolf Pack has come forward with funds.

But there's work ahead.

"With $400,000, we can open the doors," Lohmeier said. "The timeline is based on community support."

For more information, e-mail parkrapidswreck@gmail. com.

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