Commentary: Children should be outside playing in the summer

Commentary: Children should be outside  playing in the summer
July 19
01:00 2018

By James B. Ewers Jr.

The summer season is a time of relaxing and having fun for children. School has been out for a few months, so young people have an opportunity to get re-acquainted with their friends and to make new friends. The pressure of having to do homework and to study for tests is off. Students won’t have to ask their parents for lunch money and parents won’t have to tell their children it’s time to go to bed.

The joy of summer can’t be overstated. I believe children are less stressful during this respite from school. They can freely use their cell phones within reason and don’t have to hide them from their parents. There are some children who use their cell phones so much their parents put them on cell phone probation. More about cell phones later.

I have pleasant memories of summers growing up in Winston-Salem. What I remember most is that I was outside every day. The same goes for my friends. We walked to the Skyland recreation center. The director was Mrs. Minnie G. Harris.

She had every activity to make the center a fun place to be. In fact, it was Mrs. Harris who taught me how to play table tennis (ping pong).  She was a southpaw (left handed) and her shots would drive me into the wall. Eventually, I started to win a few games, but not against her. We had a swimming pool, baseball diamond and later some tennis courts at Skyland. During our breaks, we would walk up the steps to Skyland school and get a drink from the water fountain. We didn’t have Gatorade because it hadn’t been invented yet.

Most of us also spent time at the Patterson Avenue YMCA during the summer. We had day camp, which included swimming, gym activities and field trips. The first time I put on some boxing gloves was at the YMCA. One of the men in charge of the day camp was Mr. Moses Lucas.

The kids knew him as “Mo” Lucas. Mr. Lucas was a muscular guy. During my early youth, I don’t ever remember seeing a man with more muscles than Mr. “Mo” Lucas. When Mr. Lucas told you to move, you moved with dispatch.

We slept well at night because we played so hard during the day. This playing hard happened every day during the summer. We didn’t watch much television and we rarely used the telephone.

Some would say it’s a bit different today. Cell phones are a must item for pre-teens and teens. They are tied up and tangled up with cell phones. Too many spend all day on their cell phones and playing video games. It’s an obsession, in my opinion, that leads to poor health and poor social skills. Reports say that obesity among teenagers is a problem. That is not surprising because they don’t get any exercise.

Running around and not sitting around will help our teens to improve their health. Let us be proponents of teens being physically fit.  If your teen is in your house all day, send them out to play and move around.

Sly and The family Stone sang the lyrics, “Hot fun in the summer time.” Summer is here, but it will be gone before you know it.

James B. Ewers  Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator.  He can be reached at

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