The Harris Park Midtown Sports & Activities Center, located in Kansas City’s Ivanhoe neighborhood, is designed to be more than just a recreation spot — it also serves as an educational facility. The park serves the midtown area, from 31st to 47th streets, the Paseo east to Prospect. Programs available at the center range from supervised basketball leagues to educational clinics.
Chris Harris, a Kansas City native, pioneered the mission to provide a structured environment that empowers young people to develop basic life skills, self-esteem, respect for property and respect for the rights of others.
Harris says he learned some of the building blocks that led to that mission while attending Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley and playing basketball for the Penn Valley Scouts.
He grew up in the Ivanhoe neighborhood in the 1970s. He attended Kansas City Public Schools and then enrolled at MCC-Penn Valley. He played basketball and was a member of the team that won the national championship in 1996.
“Returning to MCC-Penn Valley after being out of school for seven years gave me so much confidence,” Harris says. “After winning the national championship, MCC-Penn Valley gave me the platform and opportunities to continue my education.”
Harris was recruited to play ball and attend Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. There, he majored in sociology and played basketball as a member of the 1998 Stritch team that reached national tournament-level play.
After graduating, Chris returned to Kansas City to become assistant coach with the Kansas City Knights basketball team. He says he has fond memories of life in and around his home and he wanted to ensure his neighborhood provided the same security for future Kansas City children.
In 1998-99 he purchased an entire city block across from his childhood home and began the transformation. Without any fundraising experience, Chris was able to acquire $2.5 million over five years to develop his project — a supervised park for community children and youth.
Now at 40th and Wayne stands his dream made real. The decaying buildings are gone. In their place is a four-acre park with basketball courts, a miniature golf course, volleyball courts, horseshoe pitches and a brand-new playground.
“My time at MCC helped me believe that I can do anything. It nurtured the very beginnings of my confidence and success and ultimately secured my vision to start my foundation and help others,” Harris says.
The park offers supervised hours from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and several programs including a running/walking trail, putt-putt golf, basketball, volleyball and cheerleading.
For more information, click on the link below or call 913.568.6317.