DC Has Plenty for Kids to do During the Summer

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By James Wright, Special to the AFROjwright@54.204.251.142

Young people sometimes get into mischief over the summer because they aren’t required to be in school. The District of Columbia’s government and non-profit organizations have stepped up to see that children, particularly those in Wards 7 and 8, are engaged in meaningful activities.

One example of this is the “Safe Summer” program sponsored primarily by the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative (FSFSC) located in Ward 8. The program is in its 15th year and held its kickoff on June 29 at the Bethlehem Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Jr., Ave., S.E.

Perry Moon, the FSFSC’s executive director, told the AFRO “Safe Summer” is going strong.

“We have a good turnout today,” Moon said. “We are excited about the activities that we have for young people in the ward this summer. We are encouraging young people to remain safe throughout the summer.”

So far, according to statistics of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, there has seen a 41 percent increase in homicides in the District even though crime overall is down.

Many of the homicides have taken place in eastern wards of the city and programs like “Safe Summer” are designed to keep young people off the streets. Young people can get involved with “Safe Summer” with scheduled visits to the libraries in the ward, participating in sports, arts and academic programs that take place at Emmanuel Baptist Church and the Southeast Tennis & Learning Center and recreation centers such as Bald Eagle and Barry Farm.

FSFSC partners with the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, the police department, the Anacostia Coordinating Council, and the office of D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8).

“Our partners help make this work,” Moon said.

The kickoff consisted of popcorn food booths along with tents serving icees and bottled water. There was a disc jockey playing the latest songs, and moon bounces and mountain climbs for young people.

District agencies such as the Department of Employment Services had a mobile unit available, the United Communications Department, that coordinates 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 calls, and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s community liaisons, known as MOCRS, were on hand. Black Nurses Rock DMV, an organization of African-American nurses in the Washington, D.C. area, also had a tent.

“We are here to educate the community,” Perina Gaines, Black Nurses Rock DMV president told the {AFRO}. “We are here to inform people about heart health, healthy cooking, and mental health.”

While the FSFSC focuses on activities for young people, the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP) kicked off its summer youth employment program June 25 at Check It Enterprises. Bowser was on hand to lift-off the program that will employ 10,000 District youth in 800 public and private work sites throughout the city.

“MBSYEP is about so much more than just a job – it is an opportunity for our community to help level the playing field; to keep our young people safe and engaged throughout the summer; and to build a network of professionals who are invested in helping their young neighbors succeed,” the mayor said.

The MBSYEP runs through August 3 while “Safe Summer” ends on July 31.