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ACTIVATE

Brenda Wiley struggles to keep her children involved in activities as they grow up.

She tries to go to all of 10-year-old son Kenneth Booth's basketball and football games.

She became a playground supervisor at Orchard Manor and became the sponsor of her daughter's dance team when now 19-year-old Tequisha Owens was in elementary school. The same dance team Kenneth is now on.

Tequisha is a sophomore at Marshall University, so Wiley has only Kenneth and 19-month-old Kenaja Booth at home. But she still faces the same problems.

"It's hard. It's important to keep him active," Wiley said. "He decides what he wants to participate in."

Wiley walks five blocks from Littlepage Terrace to her Head Start classroom on Main Street on Charleston's West Side. She has taught there since 1985. On Monday nights, Wiley attends class at Ben Franklin Career and Technical School.

On her way to school, she drops Kenaja at the baby sitter's.

Kenneth hops the bus to Chandler Elementary, where he is a fifth- grader. He goes to an after-school program and then to football practice. He's a running back. Sometimes he lifts weights in North Charleston to prepare for basketball season.

According to the Kids Count 2000 Databook, Wiley is not alone in her struggle to make sure her kids are involved in good activities.

The annual report shows that 10 percent of the country's low-income, urban children do not participate in recreational activities because none are available, or there's no transportation to them.

The statistics don't surprise Wiley.

"There are 13- and 14-year-olds who sell drugs. Some kids have no option but to sit on the corner and hang out," Wiley said. "There is just no place for them to go."

"Indeed, in very poor neighborhoods, it may be easier for a kid to become a gang member than it is to become a shortstop or a Scout," Kids Count researchers echoed in their report.

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