South-side smarts

More than 50 people have joined the new South Side Optimist Club, which has the goal of giving children on Cape Girardeau's south side more recreational opportunities.

Certainly, young people living on the south side of Cape Girardeau need more things to do. A lack of transportation and a lack of facilities on the south side mean many youths have little to do but hang out on the streets.

The Boys and Girls Club offers those opportunities, but its location on Broadway makes getting there a problem for many children and teens living on the city's south side.

Members of the new club complain that the south side lacks a gymnasium where youth activities can be offered. The Family Resource Center, housed in a former church at 1202 S. Sprigg St., has an after-school program but no gym.

However, there are at least two other gyms that are or could be available.

The gym at the Salvation Army at Sprigg Street and Good Hope Street is open from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. There is no charge for anyone to play, says Maj. Michael Thomas. From 15 to 30 youths use the gym every weekday.

The other possibility is old May Greene Elementary School, now owned by Cape First Church and soon to be vacated by the Cape Girardeau Alternative Education Center. The center will move into the old Schultz School building in August. When that happens, the May Greene building might provide another venue.

The new club is associated with the well-established Cape Girardeau Evening Optimist Club. The evening club can lend credibility and expertise to the new club's civic activities. Let's hope the new club's members become an agent of positive change.