The Victor J. Moss Memorial Field is a well known hub for youth athletics in Wissinoming. But inside the site’s modest cinder block building, an entrepreneurial maker space is helping young people build business skills and find new outlets for their creative energy. With guidance from retired business owner and Moss Eagles coach Cecil Parsley, kids spend their afternoons, researching, designing, and silk screening their own t-shirts and custom garments.
Cecil has coached at Moss for 18 years. Over the years, he has become a kind of neighborhood patriarch, and is considered like family to the kids who visit the site. “It started as me bringing in my equipment to make team shirts and uniforms for the Eagles,” said Parsley. “But these kids are so creative. I want to show them how they can use their talents to make money and build livelihoods for themselves.”
When he saw how much the young people wanted to learn about silk screening, Cecil set up a dark room, a screen printer, and an embroidery machine. Every afternoon, he sets up shop, teaching kids how to use the equipment to create their own designs from concept to finished product. He shows them how to care for the equipment, how it works, and even how they can build similar machines themselves. His students use these lessons to create their own designs and produce custom uniforms for the Moss sports teams.
Classes usually take place over the weekend, but anyone can come after school and Cecil will teach them to use the equipment. “They just freely come in and we talk about what they want to do. I’ll help them take their dreams from and idea in their head into a finished garment.”
Some of Cecil’s regular students have started their own brands, and now serve as tutors. The teens encourage the younger kids, and sharing the knowledge they’ve learned.
“We are always open, and there is always something to do here,” said Parsley. “The young people here know they can rely on me. What they might not know is that I also rely on them. Their energy and enthusiasm need a positive outlet, and that motivates me. Whether it’s sports, silk screening, creating a custom garment, or just hanging out to play on the computer or do homework, I try to offer positive activities that can help them find their passion and build their self-esteem.”
This spring Rebuild began a more than $1 million dollar improvement project at Moss. The first phase of the project, which is expected to be completed in Spring 2020, will deliver:
- New basketball courts.
- An outdoor cheer pad for the Eagles’ cheerleaders.
- New playground equipment and 4 person tables with chairs.
- Extensive sidewalk repairs and tree planting along Cheltenham Avenue.
- New tree plantings and landscaping.
- Outdoor adult fitness equipment.
The final phase of the Rebuild project at Moss will be to spruce up the small building that is home to so many big ideas.