It didn’t stop raining all Tuesday. A well-kept athletic field and playground were attracting puddles of rain, rather than the usual swarm of running and screaming children. But past the park and inside the lit windows of the Carmen Flores Recreation Center in the Fruitvale neighborhood, a handful of adults were breaking a sweat in a Zumba dance class. From the computer room next door, children erupted in laughter in the middle of a video game.
The community center and park are named after the late Oakland residents and community activists Carmen Flores and Josie D. de la Cruz, who provided leadership to the Fruitvale community in areas of health, education and culture. Carmen Flores is one of 27 recreation centers and facilities in Oakland operated by the Office of Parks and Recreation. The city helps funds centers like Carmen Flores provide free and low-cost programs in sports, arts and general learning for people of all ages.
During the summer months, a day camp is offered for children ages 5-12. For $40 a child per week, activities like swimming, sports and field trips to amusement parks and museums keep children engaged and parents able to work at their jobs.
Marcelina Sanchez, the program director for Carmen Flores, said the City of Oakland has had to raise the prices of summer camp because of budget cuts. “It’s a tough situation,” she said, “We lost some of our families.”
Sanchez added the Free Summer Lunch Program that Carmen Flores Recreation Center participates in does provide extra support for families in the Fruitvale neighborhood. It’s one of the 110 sites that the City of Oakland and the Oakland Unified School District provide to make free, nutritious meals available to kids while school is out of session.
For more information about Carmen Flores Recreation Center and Park or to find out more about other centers and parks, visit Oakland’s Office of Parks and Recreation website.