Field of dreams purchased for youth development

FLINT TWP. — A longtime vacant field at 2165 Lavelle Road was not much more than a mowing responsibility for the township but it represents a field of dreams for the Lord’s Gym, a non-profit, faith-based group that recently purchased it.

The group has been informally using the field for sports activities and mowing it for the past two years, township treasurer Kim Courts said when authorization to seek sealed bids for the property was approved by the township board at its Sept. 6 meeting.

Courts said the parcel was formerly the ballfield for the old Hoover School which has been torn down.

Based on an appraisal, the board set the minimum bid for the property at $2,500.

Lord’s Gym’s $3,000 bid was the only one received and was formally accepted by the township board at its Oct. 3 meeting.

“The kids are so excited. This is something they can call their own,” said Johnnie Brown, president/

CEO of Lord’s Gym and pastor of Empowered Believers Worship Center in Flint which officially paid for the property.

Brown said Lord’s Gym of Flint is the only one licensed to operate in Michigan and one of about 20 operating nationwide. The program was established by a California minister as a sports outreach program to teach leadership, team building and other life skills to youth and fulfill its vision of “birthing champions.’’

“We think we can reach them with sports,’’ Brown said. “We know they will show up to play football and basketball.’’ Brown said they may eventually build on the land but for now only plan to use it as an outdoor sports complex.

Flag football games are held there every Sunday afternoon from about 4-7 p.m. during warmer months. But Brown said they hope to expand uses beyond football now that they have bought the property to include soccer, basketball, tennis and other organized sports activities. He also said they hope to do some landscaping in the spring and install a pavilion.

About 40 youths, girls and boys ages 12 and up, currently are involved in the program, he said, adding that they target them young because “the sooner you can reach them the better.’’

Lord’s Gym provides a safe, drug-and alcoholfree environment.

“Operating a Lord’s Gym Outreach Sports Center has the promise of yielding amazing success,’’ organizers said in a proposal overview submitted to the township board.

‘(It) will offer opportunities for physical fitness to address the alarming epidemic of adolescent and childhood obesity, gaming activities, mentoring, character development and other vital life enrichment skills that are needed to help youth, children and families make decisions that will not only impact on their personal lives but the community at large.”

Last year the group hosted a Harvest Night at their final game of the season and plan to do it again this year on Oct. 30. The entire family is invited to participate, applaud trophies being awarded and enjoy refreshments, Brown said.

“Then we go back to the planning table to see how we can add value next spring. So many possibilities are there. There will be something for everybody,’’ Brown said of the field’s potential.

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