Framingham is a very diverse community, with million dollar homes in one precinct and low-income housing in another. More than 40% of all Framingham Public School students qualify for free or reduced lunch. There are reports of teens using drugs, teens in trouble with the police and many kids lacking parental supervision and support due to financial and other circumstances.
Precinct 4 Town Meeting Member Herb Chasan wants Town Meeting members to spend money to help kids and families in an area of town, that far too often makes the news for shootings and other crimes.
Calling his program "Hoops & Homework," he would like to see Special Town Meeting spend money to create one program at Cochituate Homes on Interfaith Terrace and a second program at Framingham Housing Authority development at
Carlson and Pusan Road.
"Homework & Hoops is a program which will strengthen kids academic skills while playing in basketball drills and games or participation in other recreational activities," said Chasan.
"The program is broken into two separate parts: studying and then recreation. The program helps identify opportunities for individual growth and provides a way for children to work on their schoolwork in a fun setting they will look forward to each week," Chasan explained. "The children that will use these facilities do not have the funds, transportation or opportunities that other children have. Mixing tutoring with supervised play is better for exercise and academics."
While these programs would be located in a low income housing project, which is in the highest poverty section of Framingham, Chasan said the program would be open to all residents fo Framingham.
Chasan is preparing articles for the October Special Town Meeting warrant. He and his supporters will meet with the Framingham Housing Authority tomorrow, Aug. 13.
The first article will ask Town Meeting to "provide funds to support the design and construction, including related engineering personnel, of a basketball court and other recreation amenities at Cochituate Homes."
The second article will ask Town Meeting to "provide funds to support the design and construction, including related engineering personnel, of a basketball court and other recreation amenities at the Framingham Housing Authority development at Carlson and Pusan Road. And further, to see if the town will vote to provide funds to purchase computers and other education materials for use at
the Framingham Housing Authority development at Carlson and Pusan Road."
The cost for the two "Hoops & Homework" program is still being calculated said Chasan in an interview last week. Chasan said Town Meeting will have a dollar amount to vote on, and hoped to have a figure by month's end.
Chasan said the "Hoops & Homework" program is based on a program he visited at the Pelham Apartments in Framingham.
At the Pelham Apartments, Framingham Housing Authority and Framingham Police joined together to establish a community initiative program called Our House, said Chasan.
"This program provides children with a safe haven from the temptations
of the street and offers them the hope and opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their community," said Chasan.
Established in 1996, the Our House program has since expanded to include a computer coordinator, a director, assistant director and a part-time assistant, as it provides homework help sessions and recreation activities, said Chasan.
Chasan said research supports his concept. Studies from Duke University and the University of Michigan show this type of kinesthetic learning improves test scores and retained learning. Children are learning, getting ready for school and having fun while exercising. Besides being a great way to relieve stress and stay healthy, exercise can directly help in the learning process.