When Rose White Parker was growing up, she participated in the summer program at Andalusia’s Will Coleman Center. As a teen and an adult, she worked in the program with Coach Richard Robertson.
Much about the program is the same now as it was then. Kids ages 5 to 12 are welcome. Organized activities are the norm. Tom-foolery is not tolerated. The program is still in the the same location, but the building now also bears Robertson’s name, an honor bestowed upon him in 2020 when he retired after 49 years at the program’s helm.
And now? “Mrs. Rose,” as she is known to children young and old, is in charge.
“I just love the kids,” she said. “Kids are my blessing.”
Most of the year, she is known as the fun and funny TABS teacher at Andalusia Elementary School and Andalusia Junior High School girls basketball coach. In the summer months, she is all about the Center.
The summer program, which is free and has open enrollment through the month of June, runs from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Will Coleman and Richard Robertson Center on C.C. Baker Avenue.
“We provide three meals,” she said. “The kids get lunch at 12:30 at the Woodson Learning Center. At 2:30, we give them a snack, and at 4:45, we give them supper to take home.”
Kids can swim daily, she said, as the Center has lifeguards on duty. She has five assistants, and a number of group activities are planned for children. And while children can bring their phones with them to the center, they can only use them during meal and snack time.
“They don’t come here to sit down and look at their phones,” Mrs. Rose said. “They are either swimming or learning.”
On Fridays, she offers move day on the big screen, with popcorn and sodas.
“Some of these kids will never make it to a movie theater,” she said. “I want them to know the experience. When I was growing up, there were 11 of us, and we couldn’t go to the movies. I know what it’s like, and I want to give the kids opportunities.”
She also has launched a series, Connecting with the Community (hashtags #Connectingwiththecommunity and #letstalk) in which she invites people in the community to come and give an inspirational talk to the program participants. She would love to hear from anyone willing to do a presentation.
Parents may still enroll their children in this summer’s program. The first time a child attends, a parent must register him or her. For additional information, call Mrs. Rose at 334.208.8278.