HOBART | Harrison Smith, 13, took a break while shooting hoops with friends at the gym inside the Police, Court and Community Center.
The friends, all Hobart teenage boys, were taking part in the Community Athletic Program, or CAP, initiated Tuesday by Police Chief Rick Zormier.
Smith, a sixth-grader at Hobart Middle School, said he and his friends saw a flier at school about the new program and were interested.
The chance to play basketball together was the big lure.
"We all wanted to try it," Smith said.
Zormier said he's pleased with the turnout of 15 youngsters during the two days.
"As more kids come, it will open up even more activities," Zormier said.
The program is a trial outreach program hosted by the Hobart Police Department to give community youths a safe place to go, hang out and get some exercise.
A secondary purpose of the program is to provide positive interaction between the community and its police officers and other city employees, Zormier said.
Police Cpl. Michael Pearson, one of three volunteers staffing Wednesday's program, donned gym shorts and a T-shirt to play a pickup game with the teens.
Pearson was joined on the floor by Detective Steve Houck and Fire Chief Brian Taylor.
"Hopefully this will take off. I'd rather see the young people in here than out there," Pearson said. "This is a great way to develop camaraderie."
The open gym days, which will be initiated through May, will start out from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays after school.
Initially, officials will accommodate sixth- through 12th-grade students who live in Hobart, Zormier said.
The main gymnasium primarily will be used for basketball. The rear gymnasium will be available to groups for a variety of sports.
The lobby will have tables for youths to do homework, socialize and congregate safely, Zormier said.
Zormier said he and his wife donated $500 to buy equipment, including basketballs.
"I've already had some more donations come in," Zormier said.
In the future, Zormier is hoping to also include indoor soccer, floor hockey and dodgeball.
Outdoor activities can be added when the city acquires the Brickie Bowl football stadium and track.
"I've thought about how much this could grow," Zormier said.