Wealth of activities for all ages available at Deerfield Run [South Laurel/Montpelier]

Most of us in South Laurel/Montpelier drive past Deerfield Run Community Center on Route 197 several times a week. We may become aware of some of the classes offered there as we catch sight of the electronic bulletin board near the street. I recently had the opportunity to chat with the center's program specialist Natalie Paul who filled me in on the depth and variety of programs and events held there.

One of the most popular and ambitious offerings is Xtreme Teens (ages 13-17) and Xtreme Pre-teens (ages 10-12) held each Friday and Saturday night from 7 to 10 p.m. At these times, the center facilities, including gym and game room, are closed to all but those in these age groups. A variety of different activities, including life-skills sessions, are offered each week. Snacks are also provided. The teens and pre-teens can participate in a safe, supervised "adult free" environment. As part of the Xtreme Teens program, the center participates in the countywide S.T.R.I.V.E. program, which focuses on teamwork, healthy life skills and community service projects.

For the younger set, Deerfield provides after-care programs with a nutritional snack, homework time and a variety of activities including roller skating and basketball. The very youngest participants get to use lower hoops, so they don't have to be Michael Jordan types to have fun and learn the basics of the sport. For participants ages 5 to 12 in Kids Day Out, the center provides trips and other activities on days when school in not scheduled to be in session. Previous trips have included ice skating and visits to D.C. museums.

For all ages, there is a fitness room, open gym hours for basketball practice, and lectures such as "The Iron Industry in Laurel" and "Weathering Racism: the Benjamin Banneker Almanacs." Director Jacqueline Murray and Natalie Paul are enthusiastic about Deerfield's contribution to our community. Stop by and learn more about all the exciting things happening right around the corner!

Sunday, Jan. 19, at 1 p.m., the Montpelier Arts Center presents "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," a documentary featuring Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who uses various media including sculpture, architecture, photography and film. Admission is $5 per person.

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