Kids 5-8 years old play on the jungle gym outside the OWO Center Monday, June 3. | Joy Harris
Kids 5-8 years old play on the jungle gym outside the OWO Center Monday, June 3. | Joy Harris

Archived Story

OWO Center offers kids a chance to learn, have fun

Published 1:04pm Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Joy Harris

Hartselle Enquirer

The Osborne Warren Oden Recreation Center offers a fun and safe place for kids to spend the summer.

The OWO strives to provide foundations in education, community awareness and moral beliefs for its members.

Walter G. Osborne, Earl C. Warren and Charles Oden Sr. founded the OWO in June 2005. Osborne and Warren were board members of the Hartselle Housing Authority. They transformed the Hartselle Boys and Girls Club into the more inclusive and fully staffed Osborne Warren Oden Recreation Center

All the founders have since passed away, the most recent being Earl Warren last month. Although the men who first started the OWO are no longer alive, local children still feel their impact every day.

Andrew Norton, 10, of Hartselle has been a part of the OWO for three years.

“I really like the OWO because it gives me time to hang out with friends and have fun,” Norton said. “It’s a great place to relax when I’m out of school.”

Austyn Randolph, 11, of Hartselle has been coming to OWO since he was in kindergarten.

“I’ve been here every summer for five years,” Randolph said. “The staff plays and interacts with us. I always have fun here.”

Most staff members are certified teachers, and at least one staff member is a registered nurse. Counselor Brooke Johnson has been an OWO team member for three years.

“The OWO is a great option for working parents,” Johnson said. “I don’t know where all these kids would be during the summer and after school without the OWO.”

For $45 a week, children 5-12 years old can enjoy supervised field trips, movies, games and time with friends. Parents can choose when their children will attend, whether that is one week, certain weeks for camps or the whole summer.

The OWO takes trips to the pool, vacation Bible school, Decatur museums, Gullion Farms and sports camps. Children learn everything from sports and teamwork to conservation and gardening.

This year the OWO will attend numerous camps including soccer, gymnastics, tennis, twirling, art and basketball camps. The OWO is also offering a two-week swimming lesson session at the Hartselle Aquatic Center.

The OWO is in the process of incorporating educational games and stations into center time. The kids will rotate among crafts, group activities and educational games that will keep kids learning outside of school. They are also following the example of local schools and implementing the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Kids into the curriculum.

During the school year, the OWO hosts an after-school program that helps kids with homework and lets kids relax from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. From June to mid August, the center is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The center acts as a sort of summer school for kids to attend while parents are at work. Although the OWO is dedicated to providing quality childcare for local low-income families, the center is open to all children regardness of family income. The OWO Center is located in Roberts Court apartment complex, but kids from allover are welcome.

“The majority of the kids don’t live in the complex,” director Candice Patterson said. “We have kids from allover Hartselle and other parts of the county. This place is really an asset to the entire community.”

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