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Bracing for a violent summer, northeast Denver leaders to provide resources to teen summer programs

Teens struck on Fountain Mesa Rd
Posted at 4:31 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 20:24:51-04

DENVER — On Wednesday, the Colorado Black Round Table and Gary Community Ventures will host a meeting to discuss summer program resources for parents, students and nonprofits in northeast Denver.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Park Hill Golf Course.

“It's a twofold meeting. One is an opportunity for Gary Community Ventures to talk about the Mysparks Denver program, which is an initiative to try to take cannabis dollars and use them for after school programs,” said John Bailey, director of the Colorado Black Round Table.

Bailey says the initiative would give $1,000 grants per child to go toward a summer program of their choice.

“This initiative has to go to the voters, and then once the voters approve it, then we'll create this board that will then take the county's cannabis dollars and make them available,” Bailey said. “The second part of the meeting will be trying to identify programs and opportunities that are going on this coming up summer that parents can take advantage of… and what I want to be able to do is to make sure that if programs need money, then they also need to know who to go talk to.”

Struggle of Love Foundation, a nonprofit that provides enrichment activities for at-risk children and youth, is hoping to receive some of the available resources this summer.

“The Struggle of Love, we're short on manpower,” said Jason McBride, Struggle of Love Foundation secondary violence prevention specialist. “It's just a couple of us, and then we're running on fumes as is. So, we could use more funding so we can bring in more people and then expand our reach.”

McBride says every May, Struggle of Love braces for an uptick in summer violence.

“I'm as scared as I've ever been, you know, for what we're going to go through this summer, “ McBride said. “Some of the kids that I deal with are looking at 40, 50, 60 years locked up in facilities right now.”

McBride is hoping to fill what can be an idle or violent time for teens with positive summer alternatives.

“We're offering a free summer camp for kids,” McBride said. “Then we're able to hire this year 20 to 25 kids just to be able to work through the summer.”

Vista Academy sophomore Tierra Parkinson says she is interested in participating in summer programs local nonprofits offer.

“But it depends on what kind of summer program. I think keeping kids occupied is cool, but I think also maybe something, like, enriching for kids to help them develop their career and interests would be good,” Parkinson said.

Vista Academy junior Elijah Moore is currently making his summer plans. He says he’s lost several friends to gun violence.

“I stay away from it most of the time, but I know a lot about it,” Moore said.

Both Parkinson and Moore say for summer programs to be successful, teens need adults who believe in them and who are willing to invest in their futures.