Dozens of Kansas City youths and families, equipped with their fishing gear, were scattered along the banks of Troost Lake Saturday with the simple goal of catching fish. The Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades Council, a local labor union, partnered with the United Sportsmen Alliance, the Priest Holmes’s foundation, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City to sponsor the second annual, Take Kids Fishing Day, for youths and their families at Troost Lake.
According to the organizer, Sam Phipps, the goal was to give the community a free event and the opportunity to come out and enjoy an activity that might not be accessible for some youths.
“We’re supplying them with the tools and knowledge to pursue fishing, but it’s more about just letting them know that this lake and this activity is open to anyone,” Phipps said. “Some of these kids might not have known that they could fish this lake, or had the equipment to be able to come back, so we’re trying to give them this experience.”
Those attending the event were given a free fishing rod and reel and provided a free lunch. Volunteers and mentors from Big Brothers Big Sisters attended the event and provided help and encouragement to any youths baiting their first hook or reeling in their first fish.
Eleven-year-old, Delvin Davis, had never been fishing before his mom brought him to the lake as a surprise, but said he might have found a new hobby.
“I caught seven fish and this is my first time fishing,” Davis said. “It was fun, I want to come back and fish again soon.”
Former Kansas City Chief, Priest Holmes, said he discovered the United Sportsmen Alliance offered outdoor programs for youths across the country and immediately knew he wanted to form a partnership between the organization and his own nonprofit, the Priest Holmes Foundation.
Holmes said bringing the event to Troost Lake, was important because children living in the surrounding neighborhoods might never have the opportunity to partake in the experience.
“They could actually live two blocks away from the water, and the parents can’t afford a pole or parents are too busy working,” Holmes said. “I think that’s why it’s important for us to do it close to the inner city, to give the kids that are just blocks away that may not have the resources or the opportunity, or the family members to be able to take them.”
Philip Butler, a union member and volunteer at the event, said he hopes to see the event happen more frequently in the future.
“And it should happen more, besides once a year,” Butler said. “If you have something constructive to do for those that don’t have much to do, that keeps them geared into positive things.”
Butler also noted how important it is for mentors and role models to continue to provide guidance to young people.
“It’s a beautiful sight to see,” Butler said. “The adults that are here to volunteer and mentor and help the little ones, because they need it. It takes a village.”