EAST CHICAGO | The East Chicago Park Board has given the New Mission of Jesus Christ Church permission to operate an after-school program at the Bessie Owens Center, 4001 Alexander Ave.
Fran Nowacki, manager of recreation, said a meeting recently was held with the church's pastor, Willie D. Johnson.
"The program that the pastor explains consists of homework assistance, computer time, recreation, basketball and board games," Nowacki said.
The initial plan is to run the program from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Eric Dahl and Erika Watkins spoke on behalf of the church, which is at 3924 Kennedy Ave.
"We want to be able to assist with homework," Watkins said. "We want to be able to bring up children's scores academically and provide that support."
Dahl said basketball and other recreational opportunities will draw children to the program, where they will be provided with not only school help but the chance to do some community service.
"The main purpose for what we're doing is trying to give the kids a safe place to be that can be productive," Dahl said.
Watkins said the program will be open to all East Chicago children free of charge.
"Our church is funding it, and we also do have support right now through the Foundations of East Chicago," Watkins said.
Dahl said the church would like to start the program as soon as the building is available.
It was announced at a Park Board meeting last month that the Bessie Owens Center needed minor roof repairs.