By Rikki King Herald Writer
BOTHELL — Pizza, basketball and a safe, fun place to hang out.
That’s the promise Pete Anthony wanted to make to local junior-high kids 18 years ago.
He worked with city officials to create a program that’s still offered almost every Monday night at Frank Love Elementary in Bothell.
City staff and volunteers rent the school’s gym. They plan sports and activities. Anthony brings pizzas from his restaurant, Uncle Peteza’s Pizzeria, a few blocks away.
The rules are strict. The kids have fun.
Roughly 30 of them show up every week, Anthony said.
“You come in, you behave yourself, there’s no swearing,” he said. “There’s no disrespect, no drugs, none of that stuff, no smoking. Kids are pretty good about that.”
Some alums of the program also show up while they’re still adjusting to high school, said Lisa Allen, a public educator with the Bothell Fire Department.
“It gives us an opportunity to get to know the kids and support them in their lives,” she said. “Many of the kids come back for years and years. It’s really a pleasure to get to see them grow up.”
The program provides kids with positive role models, organizers said.
“Kids need as many positive influences as possible,” Anthony said. “You never really know how much of an influence you make. A little bit here, a little bit there, it adds up.”
Sometimes, they play dodgeball or organize basketball competitions with small prizes, said Ric Jones, the city’s recreation coordinator.
Kids who participate know they get a good dinner, he said.
“This is a hot meal for some children, and I think they like to come and know they’re going to able to play some games and eat some pizza and hang out with their friends, and it’s a safe and secure environment.”
Sponsorship opportunities for the program are available. For more information, call 425-486-7430 and ask for Steve Dahl.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.