A Great Day To Be Outside — In The Water

Frank White and the Guadalupe Center Children
County Executive Frank White, Jr. with children and staff from the Guadalupe Center

Jackson County & KCATA Introduce More City Kids To The County’s Parks

TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2016

The air is thick. The sun does more than merely shine down from high above. It bears down relentlessly — hot and heavy.

“On a day like this,” observes Gina Genetta, “our kids would normally be stuck inside.” Her words are punctuated by children laughing. The kids from the Guadalupe Center, where Genetta directs the summer school program, are outside, under the sun, but escaping the mid-90° heat as they splash about in the refreshing waters of Longview Lake.

While Tuesday was most definitely a “day like this,” with our region locked in the grips of a heatwave, the Guadalupe Center students enjoyed an afternoon at Longview Lake Beach courtesy of Jackson County and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority’s (KCATA) new initiative to introduce people from the urban core to the county’s expansive parks system. 

A Warm Greeting

At the Guadalupe Center, on the western edge of Kansas City’s downtown loop, the kids boarded a KCATA bus. When their charter arrived at the beach in eastern Jackson County, a man who grew up a “city kid” like these children greeted them. County Executive Frank White, Jr. smiled and waved.

“This is our goal — the KCATA’s and Jackson County’s — to bring kids from the urban core to eastern Jackson County,” White said, “so they can experience some of the amenities out here that their parents’ tax dollars are paying for. This is a great day to get out to the beach — see what is out here and have fun. Then, hopefully, these kids will go back and tell five more people about this, and they’ll want to come out here, too.”

Genetta anticipates the Guadalope Center children “will be talking about this a long time.” Although many of their parents work two or more jobs, she believes the kids’ experience “will open some doors for their parents to get back out here and do things like this as a family.”

Two Firsts

For many of these kids Tuesday’s outing provided them two first-time experiences. Many had never before been to Longview Lake Park or ridden a KCATA bus.

“Our kids are from the inner city,” Genetta said, “so it is great to get them out here and show them more of what Kansas City has to offer them in their own back yard.”

Most of the kids, she added, walk nearly everywhere they go, “so exposing them to riding The Metro for first time was really neat, too.”

More Outings Being Planned

County Executive White first introduced the idea of “bringing the kids to the parks” during his Feb. 19 State of the County address. He saw that vision first become a reality June 21 when KCATA brought 28 children from the Whatsoever Community Center out to Longview Lake Beach.

“This now makes two outings,” he said Tuesday. “We’ll be doing more of this, including with kids who are a little older when we bring a senior group out to parks this fall. We want to bring the people from the urban core out to the county and vice versa — bring eastern Jackson County to the city — so everyone can share in the full experience of Jackson County and everything Jackson County has to offer.”