New Wichita program offers kids free bus rides, access to pools

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The City of Wichita is offering a new summer program dedicated to keeping the city’s youth busy.

The heat is on and people know what that means, summer is officially here. As kids flock to local parks and pools, the city wants to make sure every child has a way to get to those events and activities.

“There are rough times right now where there are a lot of people that have low-income and they don’t get to do stuff, so I would definitely take advantage of it,” said Andrea Amparan.

Andrea Amparan and her family frequent the Central Riverside splash park. She said she understands the need for kids to stay active and get outdoors during the summertime.

“It keeps them from staying at home, playing video games or just lounging around inside. They can be out here just having fun with other kids, interacting,” Amparan said.

To make sure kids have that opportunity, the city has started a new program called “sayYES!” YES stands for youth enrichment services.

“The idea is to provide our youth ages 7 to 17 some fun and productive activities during the summer,” said Wichita Transit Senior Communications Specialist Nathaniel Hinkel.

The program gives kids who are living in public housing or participating in the city’s Way to Work program free access to public pools, free unlimited Wichita transit rides and free lunches at a local church. The youth also get free golf at Clapp golf course, access to public recreation centers and have an opportunity to get back-to-school supply packs if they compete in a library check-in challenge. If the kids do not live in public housing or participate in the Way to Work program, they can take part in the sayYES! program for a one time fee of $20.

“We decided that we wanted to reach out to the youth to provide them the best summer that we possibly can, just to enrich their summer, to provide a good, positive direction for their energy as they are out of school” Hinkel said.

“I think it’s a good idea especially for low-income families,” said Alexandra Lopez.

“Sometimes families just don’t have money to like take them to the water parks where they charge or they can go to the library get books and just have fun,” Amparan said.

Some of the parents KSN spoke to about the new program said they were concerned about their young kids riding city buses by themselves. The city insisted the transit system is safe. Hinkel also said there is transit training for any parents and children who are interested.

“We can actually help with the travel training so we can sit down the youth and their parents and help them figure out this is how you catch the bus, this is the stop you’ll need, what time you need to be there. All of the buses are a safe place for the kids,” Hinkel said.

SayYES! participants will need to get an identification card to receive the services. Parents and youth can go to the Wichita Transit Center at 777 E Waterman St. to get the cards. The program runs from June 1 through August 31, 2017.

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