Letter to the Editor: New Community Center Needed in Calvert County, Will Provide a Safe Place for Children and Youth to Play and Be Creative

October 20, 2020

I am writing on behalf of Calvert Collaborative for Children and Youth.  There is a great need for a permanent community center in Prince Frederick to ensure that residents have recreational, community building, learning and outdoor activities that come with having a robust community.  This need has been documented over the years by Calvert Collaborative for Children and Youth, the Calvert Comprehensive Plan, and the Prince Frederick Charrette.

We see the development of a permanent Harriett Elizabeth Brown Community Center as a top priority of the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners.  We want to publicly thank our commissioners for purchasing the land for this project.  That was a great step forward, but WE CAN’T STOP THERE.  Access to a facility of this kind will meet the needs of the children, youth, and families in the whole Prince Frederick area, and indeed countywide.

Our big concern is for the youth in Prince Frederick to have more safe places for them to play and be creative.  Studies show time spent in play and games declines by more than half as children mature into adolescence.  Involvement in music, arts and sports can encourage youth to tap into their playful spontaneous energy.  Some young people struggle and feel out of place in school.  These young people may excel and be a leader in a less traditional setting, building a sense of competence and confidence not experienced anywhere else.

Many of you know that the Collaborative is the guru for Asset Development which identifies 40 experiences, skills, and attitudes that youth need to be successful.  The lowest of these assets (nationwide and in most places including Calvert County) is the asset dealing with constructive use of time.  So, we must do all we can to afford our children and youth the opportunity to have more balance in their lives.  Just as too much involvement can lead to stress, anxiety and too little personal time, too little involvement can be a sign of depression, isolation, or some other unhealthy situation.

In addition to our advocating for the Center, we have gathered information in support of this effort.  This support has come from Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, Calvert County’s Ambassador Troop 641, and the Mac Scholars of Calvert High School and, of course, this is the recommendation of the Harriet Elizabeth Brown Commemoration Task Force.   Each of these groups has stated  why a Community Center is needed, what outcomes we can be expected from youth, and how the center will help volunteers and other non-profit groups.

Having adequate facilities, programs and opportunities in Prince Frederick has also been recommended in the Charrette Report and through the Prince Frederick Town Center Master Planning documents.  This need is still there as the current Prince Frederick Town Center Master Plan Update focus groups are being held.

We urge you to make this issue  – that of providing more opportunities for constructive use of time by committing to build a permanent Harriett Elizabeth Brown Community Center – a priority for Prince Frederick.  If we don’t do it now, we will pay later.

Please can encourage Calvert’s County Commissioners to continue supporting this much needed permanent recreation community center by emailing your backing of the project to [email protected].

Guffrie Smith, President of Calvert Collaborative for Children and Youth, St. Leonard.