“The City Cares About Reducing Barriers in Various Communities.” – Dallas Youth One Step Closer to Free Access Into All Recreation Centers

Generations of Dallas' youth have walked through doors of the Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center.

The hope for Taylor Toynes is that any one of them who wants to will always be able to.

"That's the worst thing, to go into a rec and you see kids standing outside and ask why are yall not inside? I don't have a rec pass," said Toynes, a Park Board Representative

Toynes spent many days as a young boy at the Thurgood Marshall Center.

He played basketball in the same gym that children just a bit older than his own daughter now spend their time.

It's that kind of youthful energy Toynes wants to see more of.

"I wanted to do whatever it was I could to help barriers and advocate for the kids," he said.

It's why he's been so vocal about the need for more resources.

In a straw vote, Dallas city leaders moved in favor of a $975,000 budget enhancement which would provide a free rec pass for every child between six and 17 years old.

"Now a six-year-old could go to the rec every day if they wanted to without having to have that barrier," said Toynes.

Assistant Director of Parks and Recs Crystal R. Ross says the burden for thousands of families will be lifted.

"The fact that we can not have to charge that to the families and allow them access into the facility enjoying programs, it's going to free up so many things in regards to parents worries," said Ross. "This shows that the city cares. The city cares about our future. The city cares about reducing barriers in various communities."

Toynes says this measure isn't just about how funds are allocated. He says it's about the far-reaching impact services like this can have on Dallas's youth.

"Police and public safety is necessary in our city. But I think just as necessary is the quality of life that our most vulnerable populations are having," he said.

Last year, some 13,300 youth in Dallas had recreation ID cards. Toynes and Ross are looking forward to getting more passes in the hands of children and teenagers living in Dallas.

"I feel joy, inspired, encouraged because of who they will become and just seeing them out having fun. And just being innocent and having somewhere safe that they know that they can be.

A final vote on the budget enhancement is expected early October.

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