Swimming to a new rec center

August 12, 2008 3:29:33 PM PDT
Some local swimmers will soon be doing the backstroke in a world class recreation center.

To say it's an upgrade would be an understatement.

For years, Jim Ellis has been helping Philadelphia's inner-city children become award winning swimmers.

You may remember his name. He was portrayed by Terrence Howard in the movie "Pride."

The setting of that film, the Marcus Foster Recreation Center, will be replaced by a $110 million community center Nicetown.

Ellis will run the center's aquatic center.

Swimmer Chelsea Andrews, 17, is ecstatic.

"I think it's great. Especially us coming from Marcus Foster with leaky ceilings and cockroach filled locker rooms," she said. "For a certain amount of time we didn't even have a pool."

The new center won't be just about swimming. The Philadelphia center will reach out to children and adults with a culinary school, health, wellness & job resource centers, along with a day care and after school programs.

Spiritual mentoring will also be offered.

"We can house everybody under one roof," Jim Ellis told Action News. "And we can take care of the whole family. We can take care of mind body and soul all under one roof."

The salvation army will build the center on twelve acres along Wissahickon Avenue near Roberts with fund raising and a $72 million dollar gift from the Ray and Joan Kroc foundation. Ray Kroc was the founder of McDonald's.

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