MetroSquash Officially Opens $7 Million Academic & Squash Center in Woodlawn
4/29/2015, 12:45 p.m.
MetroSquash opened its first free-standing 21,000 sq. ft. academic and squash center in Chicago's Woodlawn community at 6100 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
Squash is a racquet sport played by two players (or four players in doubles) in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball according to SquashCananda (http://www.squash.ca/).
The MetroSquash program develops youth participants by implementing a holistic approach that empowers them both athletically and academically.
“MetroSquash provides more of Chicago’s youth an opportunity to persevere both on the court and in the classroom, but as importantly, when you make investments like this, other investments follow, creating opportunities throughout the neighborhood and lifting the economic fortunes of the entire community,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was on hand for a recent ribbon cutting ceremony for the facility.
Cong. Bobby Rush (Dist.-1), Ald. Willie Cochran (20th Ward) and other dignitaries also attended the event.
The center is part one of a two part Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) project. The second project, The Burnham, is an affordable senior living center scheduled to open later this year. POAH is a nonprofit organization which preserves and stewards affordable rental housing. In 2011, POAH in partnership with the City of Chicago received $30.5 million as a recipient of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant.
“MetroSquash, one of the nation’s most preeminent youth programs, now calls Woodlawn home. [This] represents a goal we all share for new opportunities for neighborhood youth and to provide support needed to nurture opportunities,” said Roger Brown, Jr., managing director of real estate development, POAH.
Currently, the MetroSquash center accommodates nearly 140 students hailing from Chicago's Woodlawn, Hyde Park, Bronzeville and South Shore communities. Starting next school year, the center will serve 250 to 300 students ages, 10 to 21.
“This opening of this center really provides our children an opportunity to be children.” said Cong. Bobby Rush (Dist.-1st). “It really provides us with an opportunity to develop with the kind of loving care and attention that they deserve and that they need and that is so difficult for them to find.”
The center employs eight University of Chicago (UC) work-study students who serve as academic staff.
“Delivering excellent opportunities in education is what we talk about when changing the dynamics of our communities and putting children in a position in their lives where they can be successful and be leaders in their communities,” said Ald. Willie Cochran (20th Ward).
MetroSquash Chairman of the Board, Paul Cussen, told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper that for right now, the center is only open for youth after school and summer activities. Cussen believes that in future discussions with Cochran the center’s space can be extended to the entire community.
“We primarily focus here in our neighborhood,” said Cussen. “That was our priority on where to grow and we continue to grow in the neighborhood through the organization.”
For more information about MetroSquash visit http://www.metrosquash.org/.