New specialty programs are coming to select parks in Miami Gardens this summer.
The programs are spread across four different parks throughout the city and include instruction in culinary arts, foreign languages, a science and technology camp, and an arts camp teaching music and dance.
The programs will serve, in part, as a method for gauging interest in the magnet centers that Mayor Oliver Gilbert said would be created through the city’s $60 million general-obligation bond issue.
“We know that we’ve had people approach the city about programs in these areas previously,” Gilbert said. “We want to give them the opportunity to explore those interests.”
Starex Smith, the assistant director of parks, said the programs were placed in certain parks based on community feedback and the steady increase of enrollment in summer camps. Smith said that enrollment in the summer of 2012 was about 290 kids and jumped to about 600 in 2013.
“We saw that most of the kids come from the neighboring areas,” Smith said. “When we had parent meetings, we gave surveys about what kind of programs they wanted to see.”
Smith said that although the programs are in certain parks, it does not mean the various magnet centers will be placed there. Gilbert, in promoting the bond, said the magnet programs might include activities at an alternative-sports building for gymnastics, a culinary-arts facility with a commercial kitchen and food storage area, and an entertainment studio.
Smith said that based on the results of the summer programs, the parks department will present findings to the community and to city staff members.
“It will definitely help add to the conversation,” Smith said. “These programs allow us to measure progress and measure success.”
The specialty programs will be staffed by parks employees, contracted instructors and university professors.
The camps cost $55 a week for residents and $65 a week for nonresidents, excluding the humanities camp which will cost $45 a week, and will run from June 9 to Aug. 8.