Liberty Rec and Tech Center
In May 2012, Baltimore City Department of Parks and Recreation proposed to decrease their service footprint by reducing the number of recreation centers they support from 55 to 31. Twenty-four recreation centers were slated to be closed or taken on by private operators, including the recreation center attached to Liberty Elementary School that serves students in the Forest Park community. When members of the community discovered the Liberty Rec Center was on the closure list, they launched a campaign to save it. In partnership with the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS), Liberty Elementary School and a host of program providers has worked to rebrand and repurpose the new Liberty Rec and Tech Center into a student after-school supports provider and community wraparound service designed to bolster the neighborhood. The Liberty Rec And Tech Center now provides a full slate of support designed to provide wraparound services for students and parents throughout the neighborhood. By working with its partners, the center now supports GED classes, a full-service food pantry, workforce development seminars, after-school programming, technology classes, parenting classes, a Head Start program, league basketball and volleyball, ceramics classes, visual arts programming, zumba, dance, aerobics and fitness, a community pool, a sewing circle, and a space available for community rentals. It is our hope that this comprehensive system of supports will bolster student educational attainment, build stronger communities, reduce neighborhood challenges, and inspire an innovative vision of what community engagement in Baltimore can look like.