McClatchy Park’s swimming pool on 35th Street and 5th Avenue opened the on 18th of this month. For some it’s a form of entertainment, but for others it’s a way of staying out of trouble.
Joanna Johnson, a mother of four and an area resident, has lived in Oak Park all her life.
“Every year I wait for summer to come around for my younger children to go the swimming pool,” said Johnson.
Johnson would let her children to go to the pool everyday if it were possible.
“I prefer them to be there swimming than to be out on the streets doing something they aren’t supposed to be doing,” said Johnson.
Johnson lives with the harsh reality of gangs interfering with her children’s lives.
“It’s very difficult, one of my kids is already locked up and I don’t want my other ones following him,” said Johnson. “When I heard a couple years ago about the pools closing, I was terrified.”
Johnson’s son was brought into a gang by his fellow friends.
“He was a young nice kid but those boys changed his life forever, now he is serving a long sentence for something his friends involved him in,” said Johnson.
She knows that if she keeps her kids occupied in other things they won’t have time to join gangs, and hopefully won’t end up in jail or worse.
“For some people out here in Oak Park, this pool is just a regular old pool that’s fun to swim in. But for me, it’s something different; It’s a life changer it’s a big influence on my kids lives.” said.
The McClatchy Park swimming pool will be open through August 18th from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Fridays. For more information call (916) 277-6041.
The subjects name has been changed due to safety concerns.