An act of vandalism in Clinton’s Reg Conn Park has been turned into an educational moment for two local youth.
The two 12 year-old-boys, who kicked in the door of the park’s bandshell, have offered Clinton council a list of ideas of what they would like to see in the community for local youth. Their suggestions followed an invitation by Mayor Susan Swan to ask their friends what they like about Clinton and what they need.
“Some of the ideas are a little out of our league like a swimming pool or a skateboard park. Some of the things they came up with were already on our list like updating the ball field in Elliott Park, adding more trails and opening the arena earlier in the year for skating,” Swan said. “One young lad said he’d be quite willing to sit in on one of our planning sessions and outline the ideas he has.”
Swan said she didn’t want to punish the boys but instead use the incident as a way to engage with Clinton’s pre-teen demographic. Neither she nor the boys were sure why they had kicked in the door aside from boredom.
The boys apologized to council last month, with one saying he was “just acting stupid” while the other said he will “choose to make better choices from now on.”
“These two are known around town to be good kids and they just made a bad choice,” Swan said. “They came to our council with their heads down and said ‘we did something stupid and we’re never going to do it again.’”
Swan told the boys at the council meeting that the village is in the process of updating its strategic plan and “it would help us know what you want.” She later told the Free Press the village had recently updated its parks and recreation plan and realized they hadn’t consulted the community’s young people.
While Clinton has playground equipment for children and trail systems for adults, Swan said they are lacking in activities for pre-teens and teenagers.
“We want everyone to feel they’re welcome in Clinton regardless of their age,” she said. “Young people are the up-and-coming group that will eventually run the community so we want them to feel a part of it.”