Sandy Springs Diversity and Inclusion subcommittee wants recreation options to match minority interests

Concerned that city activities may not reflect local diversity, the Recreation subcommittee of the Sandy

Concerned that city activities may not reflect local diversity, the Recreation subcommittee of the Sandy Springs Diversity and Inclusion Task Force intends to survey residents about how they want to play.

Desmond Curry, who heads the committee, expressed concern at its first virtual meeting on March 30 that sports activities that he said are preferred by some minority communities, such as basketball, get much less support than tennis and lacrosse. 

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“The more ethnic sports, I feel like we don’t have a lot of opportunities for people,” he said.

The Sandy Springs Diversity and Inclusion Task Force formed early this year with a goal of suggesting ways to improve inclusion in city government and the community following Black Lives Matters protests that occurred in the city last summer. Jim Bostic, who chairs the task force, created Housing & Transportation and Recreation subcommittees to begin work on creating proposals.

Curry will help make sure any of the Recreation subcommittee’s messages share the same goals. Clarissa Sparks and Salvador Ortega will develop survey questions they plan to share with city residents, using social media such as Nextdoor to get responses. Ortega, a sergeant with the city’s police department and its public affairs officer, will take advantage of his official Nextdoor account to reach a larger audience.

Curry, a billing specialist with Rubin Lublin, a boutique real estate law firm, said as vaccinations help get the city back to normal, it will be important for the community to feel included in whatever the city does.

The committee plans to figure out what recreation opportunities already exist in the city. Curry said he feels activities are limited. Tennis and soccer appear supported, but finding basketball courts or other options seem limited. 

To him, recreation covers a big umbrella including sports, entertainment and other activities.

“I feel like Sandy Springs, we’re very good on the active community [aspect], whether it be tennis, biking. Those two things are very popular, but I feel like our options can be as diverse as our community,” Curry said.

He said opportunities with the Chattahoochee River aren’t used as much as possible. Sparks, the founder and brand strategist for a branding agency, said Columbus, Georgia, has an event on the river with rafting and tubing that attract attention and people to the city.

At Sparks’ suggestion, the committee will attempt to reach out and address the interests of residents by demographics including age groups.

“That way, as a committee, we’re not making a collective decision or coming up with ideas that may not even be relevant to the committee,” she said.

Ortega also plans to survey the Hispanic residents who make use of the Solidarity Sandy Springs food pantry services and who largely live south of I-285.

Curry plans to reach out to more niche groups.

“I know there are certain Facebook groups that are tailored to certain communities within any spring safer gamers, or young adults, or things like that,” he said.

Ortega offered to review what the city and neighboring communities offer for recreation.

“I think this is a good opportunity for us to partner with and look for other partners. We’ve got different schools, elementary schools that have soccer fields, they have basketball courts,” he said.

Ortega said they should figure out why many residents don’t hear about the city-sponsored activities.

The committee will share ideas by email so Curry can present a report to the next Diversity and Inclusion Task Force meeting scheduled on April 13.