Safe Summer program seeks to keep kids out of trouble

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — An event to keep kids out of trouble was in full swing Friday night all across Memphis.

It’s called “Safe Summer”, an initiative put together by several groups, including non-profit Memphis Gunned Down. The goal is to keep community centers open late on Friday nights to give children fun, safe and positive things to do. 

Nina Allen-Johnson is with Memphis Gunned Down. 

“We have art, entertainment. We have Zumba. We feed them. They have bounce houses,” she said.

The event, which started in 2012, is held every Friday night in July at seven community centers across the city, including the Orange Mound Community Center on Park Avenue, where ninth grader Nehemiah Mason was hanging out Friday.

“I see a lot of kids,” he said, “When they come here, they be having fun, get them motivated and stuff.”

Keviena Mason brought her four children.

“There’s not a lot of programs for the kids to do and I’m just thankful for this program they are giving our children an outlet,” she said.

Mason says initiatives like this are needed now more than ever after an already violent summer in Memphis. In just the last week, at least two children have been stabbed and three others shot’ including 7-year-old Kelby Shorty who was killed outside a North Memphis home during a 4th of July celebration.

“It’s mind bogglin,g and it really makes me uncomfortable sending my kids into the community every day,” Mason said.

But seeing programs like Safe Summer gives her hope that Memphis can see less crime in the future.

“Foundation starts when (people) are young,” Mason said, “Stay on a good path so maybe we won’t have so much violence. We’re trying to get the crime to go down not up. It starts with the children.”

The program runs every Friday in July from 6 pm to 10 pm. Participating community centers are below:

  • Bert Ferguson Community Center – 8505 Trinity
  • Hickory Hill Community Center – 3910 Ridgeway 
  • North Frayser Community Center – 2555 St. Elmo
  • Raleigh Community Center – 3678 Powers
  • Charles Powell/Westwood Community Center – 810 Western Park
  • Lester Community Center – 317 Tillman
  • Orange Mound Community Center – 2572 Park Ave

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