Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Interview by:Maya Blumenberg-Taylor
Ian Yarber is the head of the Recreation Department of Oberlin. He oversees recreation-related activities around in the town. He was born in Oberlin, and returned here about 17 years ago. Ian has a three year-old daughter.
Its a nurturing community for people.
Q: What comes to mind when you think of Oberlin?
A: Ive always thought of it as a small, cosmopolitan town because you have all these diverse people. The college brings in a lot of diversity. But even the...communityits a diverse community. I think Oberlins always been cutting-edge, on a number of things, in terms of support of education. Just the way the community supports endeavors for young people. They continue to support that environment that helps young people children, college students be able to come and be educated, and go out into the world. To me, Oberlin gives that whole, wrapping our arms around the community and helping it grow, and set the foundation for life. Oberlins college and community sets the foundation for people to move on in life. I see it as a big family environment. I think its a nurturing community for people.
Q: What sort of actions is the Recreation Department involved in that relate directly to the well-being of the environment?
A: We have a recreation complex where we sell concessions. One of the first things we did was look at, in selling concessions, is that we werent gonna use styrofoam. We try to do it in the best friendly, environmental way. We try to use things that can be recycled, that are not as harmful to the environment that way. In our after school program, the things that we serve them, we try to do locally grown. If we purchase things, [we] try to purchase them locally in terms of products that we might use in our programs, knowing that part of the carbon footprint is trucking things in and out.
Q: In thinking about sustainability, and the social health and well-being of the community, what do you think these programs give to Oberlin kids?
A: I look at the Playground Camp. Our Playground Program goes five days a week, from 10 AM to 3 PM. I think without that there would be a lot of kids left, really, unsupervised. As opposed to now, theyre in a supervised, pretty much controlled environment, with trained staff who can make sure the things theyre doing are safe. We do so many things with them. I think that program brings value to
the community. Also, some of those statistics show kids that are in after school program do a lot better in school, because they do their homework and they do get help with their homework.So, I see value in all of it. I see that its helping the fiber of the communitytaking care of the community. Having things that children can do incorporated within this small community of Oberlinthey can get all those things here. I see value in it. I tell people: I can teach life lessons within those sports. How to be a team player. How to be able to deal with wins and losses. You gonna win some, you gonna lose some. You gonna deal with losses in your life, because losses are gonna happen in your life. So, to deal with those things, those emotions, and tell them that, This is all a part of growing upas you walk through lifeyou know, the hard work. There are those things that I see value inin the community, for the children of this community.
We talk to kids about healthy choices. And thats one of the biggest things.
Q: Do these programs promote any personally healthy habits for Oberlin kids?
A: We talk to kids about healthy choices. And thats one of the biggest things. We try to encourage that in after school, in our snacks. We do maybe baked potato chips, but we also do carrots and vegetables. Were introducing some of them to carrots, and celery, and unsweetened tea, as opposed to pop, and some of the other things that they could be getting at home. Theres change in the thought of some of the kids. So, it helps, if they find out that grapes are sweet, theyre not nasty and grapes and oranges are not bad for you theyre pretty good.
Q: Do you see ways in which what the Oberlin Recreation Department offers benefits the sustainability of the community as a whole, beyond the kids?
A: There are those things that I see value in, in the community, for the children of this community and the parents too: they have a comfort zone enough that they can leave a child here, and not worry about them because they know theyre in a fun, safe environment. And its the coming together. Back here at Park Street Park for years I wanted them to have a new playground, and they would say, Whats a new playground gonna do for that park? And I would say, Well, its more than just a playground. Its where kids come to play, and where a parent takes a kid, they get to meet other parents. Its a bringing of the community together. Its more than just a playground. When you have a public park and a playground, its bringing the community together around playing.
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