CLEVELAND - Four Cleveland recreation centers will stay open late this summer in an effort to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.
"The more we can keep them entertained and physically challenged, the better off the whole neighborhood is," said Michael Cox, director of public works for the city.
Glenville, Lonnie Burten and Zelma George Recreation Centers on the east side, as well as the Cudell Recreation Center on the west side, will keep their doors open until 11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday beginning next week.
"Some of us are out of shape, and we're going to need it for the season," said Diamond Jones, a ninth grader and East Tech High School basketball player.
Jones practices at Zelma George four days a week and she said the extra hours will help her improve her game.
"We do a lot of lifting weights, jogging, running just to get in shape for the season," she added.
The extra hours are also exciting to 12-year-old Jayvion Williams, who visits Zelma George every day.
"It's fun up here," he said. Williams said he's looking forward to focusing more on his basketball skills at night.
A grant from the non-profit Cleveland Foundation is financing the project. That same grant funded last year's project, which allowed the same four rec centers to stay open late.
Statistics show last year's extended hours helped deter crime.
In the vicinity of the four rec centers, Cleveland police report a 32 percent drop in the Lonnie Burten neighborhood and a 24 percent reduction near the Glenville rec center. There was also a 13 percent drop in the Cudell neighborhood and a 3 percent decline near the Zelma George Center.
"Extending those hours until 11 o'clock at night keeps them (kids) off the street until 11 o'clock at night," Cox said.
The extended hours will run through mid-August.