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A COMMUNITY RECREATION PROGRAM FOR
George A. Bellamy, Head Resident, Hiram House, Cleveland
Before taking up the problem of the community recreation, it might be wise to discuss the relation of the community and democracy in order that we may better understand the principles and program that a community must have in order that a democracy may be permanent. Democracy is like the Kingdom of Heaven—it is within US. It has two souls, the soul of the individual and the soul of the nation. The social life of the nation is the best external evidence of its soul, just as the moral acts of the individual are the tests of the individual soul.
The individual must be free to act so long as he does not harm any other member. He must think in terms of his individual salvation and neighborhood development. This means, first, that we must have an intelligent individual. Thomas Jefferson said that "Any man who expects to be free and ignorant at the same time expects what never has happened and what never can happen." All progress depends upon an intelligent public opinion.
We must have, second, a community will which controls the individual will. Any lack of a collective will must necessarily give rise to the overthrow of the community. There must be a top and bottom intelligence. The authority conferred by the individual at the bottom through his representative at the top must sparkle with courage, vision, human sympathy and understanding. Anarchy, even though it be the "white flag" anarchist with all his sympathy and devotion to idealism, cannot exist because it does not have a community will.
Before the war this nation was a nation of individually capable men, but not knit together. We had great inventors, great financiers, great lawyers, great railroad magnates, but these pyramids of greatness have not been tied up in a thorough, definite way to any national program. America led the world in social unrest, in homicides, accidents, fires, etc. Our national characteristic was lawlessness, as instanced in the most common walks of life by speed violators, race track gamblers, professional thieving in large and small businesses, and as instanced also in great tragic acts as the dynamiting of the McNamaras and the hanging of Frank in Georgia. Before the war we were a mighty population without self-control, without self-discipline and without a great sense of co-operation except in some sudden, tragic impulse. But the war has put a new color upon our national characteristics and has suddenly thrown us together in a time of dire distress. It gives promise that it may bring out a great national consciousness, a national discipline, a national program, yea, a national soul. It has already given us a broader social
•Summary of address.
vision. We are thinking in terms of justice not alone for our own race and people, but even in international terms.
If our democracy had been prepared for this war by virtue of a great national consciousness and soul as we are likely now to develop, we would not have waited so long before entering the war, and the tragedies and suffering would probably have greatly decreased. In order that we may be prepared, we must have a real community program, which has developed every individual in the community so that he is fulfilling his full responsibility. Naturally this program must begin with the children, for, as we develop in the child idealism, honor, health, happiness, morals, so we fill the nation with a population full of strength and courage that cannot be overcome.
The first suggestion that I make for a community program is that it must have simplicity. It must be, as far as possible, free from machinery which dwarfs and strangles the fullest development. An organization which has become institutional is not progressing. It has crystallized. It is living upon the past. Its machinery is too great to permit its fullest and free development. Its plays moral havoc with the highest type of leadership. The loss of free, simple development of neighborship is the most damaging charge that could come to a community. We must not be dazzled by bigness of things, by buildings, and things external. Hence, it is necessary that so far as possible the community program be free from mechanical devices which thwart progress.
Second, there must be in the community groups of people who are pioneers, who develop technique of organization, ideals and vision, and as soon as such individual programs have been thought through and worked out, the group of individuals should see that the community takes up the program, working out through its own experience the problems involved. The settlement has, to my mind, been the eyes of the neighborhood. At Hiram House in Cleveland, twenty-two years ago, we were opening up kindergartens, nurseries, public baths, branch libraries, encouraging the establishment of city physicians in the neighborhood, developing plans for the teaching of domestic science, working on an employment bureau, night classes for foreigners, manual training, etc. As soon as it was possible to secure public agencies to take over and assume the responsibility for these activities, they were turned over to such organizations. It has ever been our purpose to suggest and work out the problem involved in a special activity and secure somebody else to carry it on, either a great private agency or some department of the municipality or board of education. There are now other activities carried on at Hiram House which we hope within the next two or three years can be turned over to such agencies. This is the way of life—the nurturing, the developing and then the giving off. Death follows when progress stops. There must be in the neighborhood many such agencies that are good losers, that work out their pet ideas and then gladly with good sportsmanship, pass them on. It is a greater privilege, as well as duty, to do this than it is to hold within our own control activities which, when carried on by the community, will be of value to a far greater number.
Third, this program should develop self-expression of the community. It must begin with the children. They must be taught to handle civic forces through such organizations as Progress City at Hiram House, which is a miniature city that has its own array of city officials, runs its own bank, store and post office, and in which every citizen learns a trade and is paid in Progress City money. Here children are working out ideals of citizenship and the problems involved. They learn the value of strong leadership in office, the disadvantages and losses that result from weak leadership. As children have placed upon them the responsibility for the development of such ideals and civic virtue, they will come into their full-fledged citizenship prepared for the trying responsibilities ahead of them.
It is impossible to make definite suggestions of individual activities, but in order that you may all get more specific help, I suggest that you study carefully H. Caldwell Cook's new book completed in the trenches, The Play Way. I suggest also that you study Joseph Lee's Book, Play in Education. Mr. Lee in the fore part of his book suggests there are seven fundamental instincts in every child—hunting, fighting, co-operation, nurturing, creation, rhythm, curiosity. These instincts come through at different periods of the child's life. There should be a program in the community with activities specially planned which draw out in each individual these instincts at the time of their natural development in the child. Mr. Lee makes many suggestions in his book which are helpful in such a program.
1. Capt. Walter Petit, N. A., formerly of the staff of the New York School of Philanthropy, said: When the city takes control of recreation there are disadvantages as well as advantages. Too often all relations to children's play interests are neglected, and activities become more nearly drudgery than play. This is but one phase of the leisure time problem, so much neglected in this country
2. Sidney A. Teller, resident director of the Irene Kaufmann Settlement, Pittsburgh, stated that every school house should be a community center. Private efforts and agencies should point the way and make the experiments for a democracy, but it is important in a democracy that private efforts should not carry the load any longer than is necessary. As soon as the democracy, as represented by the municipal, state or national government, can undertake to carry on the work, the burden should be shifted from private to public effort. This assumes that the community appreciates the value of the service and its responsibility for it.
3. Other speakers on informal discussion of this topic were: Cyrus F. Stimson, New York; William R. Taylor, St. Louis; E. O. Bradshaw, Chicago; Mrs. H. C. Broyles, Cincinnati; Charles A. Bernheimer, New York; John Melpolder, Portsmouth; Mrs. T. F. Kinney, Minneapolis; Prof. R. E. Hieronymus, Urbana, 111.
4. In closing, Mr. Thurston spoke of the lengthening radius of recreation for children. He also added that in developing proper recreation on a city-wide basis demonstrations must be made to the school board in small units; religious terminology must not be used; a committee for local service must be gotten together; decent Sunday recreation must be encouraged and made possible; and all through, recreation must be put on the basis of self-expression for the fundamental instincts. Joseph Lee's book, Education Through Play, was recommended as a help to drawing such self-expression out.
THE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES PRESENTED BY THE SCHOOL LUNCH
Sally Lucas Jean, People's Institute, New York.
Through a wise stimulation and direction of the group spirit, children collectively can be taught readily many things which it is well nigh impossible to give to the individual child in the home. Therefore group feeding, whether in connection with the school lunch service, in the day-nursery, on the playground, or in the recreation center, offers one of the best means for cultivating in children those correct food habits which lie at the foundation of child health. It is not sufficient that the child be given certain theoretical information concerning dietetic principles. This information must be made to function in conduct, and it is only by the inculcation of right food habits, as distinguished from the imparting of dietetic information, that we may hope to make any real headway against the evil of malnutrition, whose bad effects are becoming increasingly apparent in children of all classes, rich and poor alike.
Malnutrition is a much misunderstood term. To most people it is synonymous simply with improper feeding. The kind and amount of food taken by the child is held to be responsible for the trouble. This is, however, too naive a view of the problem. Malnutrition involves the proper digestion and assimilation of food, as well as its quality and amount. Anything which interfers with the way in which food is digested and assimilated will tend to cause malnutrition. It is a question of how the body utilizes the food ingested, as well as whether the food is of the right quality and amount. This means that all of the living habits of the child—his work, his play, his exercise, his habits of breathing and sleeping, his regular attention to the evacuation of the bowels, and many other things—must be taken into consideration if we would guard against malnutrition.
Granting, however, the importance of all these other health factors, students of the subject are agreed that the majority of malnourished children of this country are insufficiently or unsuitably fed. Errors in personal hygiene often lead to loss of appetite and perverted food habits. Pampering is perhaps almost as important as poverty as a factor in producing malnutrition, for pampering leads to bad eating habits, and bad eating habits lead to malnutrition. Bad habits, whatever their cause, must be overcome, and the child must be re-educated in right eating habits, before his condition can be remedied. It is in this education that the school lunch offers unparalleled opportunities.
Bad Effects of Malnutrition
In the opinion of the Public Health Committee of the New York Academy of Medicine, "Ignorance of food values is one of the several major causes of this phenomenon of malnutrition, which, if unchecked, will cause a serious impairment of our vital resources. Since the war the importance of the problem has become palpably intensified.
The necessity for food conservation and the scarcity of some customary foods and the high prices have combined to focus our attention on the problem of nutrition as never before. Changes in strongly intrenched habits cannot be wrought precipitately. Even when mothers have learned how to adapt the menu to scientific dictates and to conditions indicated by our conservation policy, their efforts fail unless the children learn to like the food placed before them.
"Malnutrition, although not a disease in the narrow sense of the term," says Dr. E. H. Lewinski-Corwin, "is a morbid physiological condition which may be caused by surroundings of an unsanitary nature, or by personal habits which are unhygienic, or by some physiological cause or defect which prevents the proper assimilation of food." Malnutrition is a definite departure from health which should be recognized as much as tuberculosis. It has certain definite causes and definite after effects. Moreover, some of these aftereffects can never be entirely overcome. An adult may be underfed for a long period without any serious results, but the child who suffers from serious malnutrition may never be so strong and capable as he might have been. Malnutrition is something which in the great majority of cases is preventable and curable. Its detection requires no expert medical knowledge, or careful microscopic examinations. The weight of the child and his rate of gain usually tell the story.
The malnourished child is always underweight. Dr. William P. Emerson would classify every child who is as much as ten per cent underweight for his height as a malnourished or undernournished child, and this standard is generally accepted by other students of malnutrition. Malnourished children are usually pale and anaemic, inattentive, listless in their studies, and disinclined to run and play. They are easily fatigued, both mentally and physically, and are often retarded in their school work. The malnourished child is peculiarly susceptible to disease, he is always catching whatever disease happens to be making the rounds. His muscles are soft and flabby. What folly to attempt to force such a child through the regular mill of school work! It results merely in time and money wasted by the teacher and the school system, and failure and discouragement on the part of the child who cannot keep up with his mates.
Extent of Malnutrition
Nevertheless it is estimated by Dr. Josephine Baker, Director of the Bureau of Child Hygiene of the New York City Department of Health, that about twenty-one per cent of the school children in New