COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus residents on the westside are winding down after a community party that looks to transform a neighborhood once riddled with crime.
A local non-profit is helping residents at Wedgewood Village Apartments keep violence and crime away.
At the community party Friday, the music and food was used to bring the communtity together, and to give younger residents somethign to do.
“I’m actually feeling pretty happy and excited cause seeing the kids all having fun and stuff,” said Quali Ahmed, one of the teen residents of Wedgewood.
The community has overcome much in recent years — 17 shootings and seven homicides.
“In the past, but in the past year, everything has been good,” said Ahmed. “No shootings. Nothing.”
The non-profit group My Project USA planned the event just for the kids, many of whom don’t have food or summer programs to occupy their time.
“What we are doing here is providing them with all kinds of space, education opportunities, recreation opportunites, making sure drug dealers and pimps can not get a hold of them,” said Zerqu Abrd, founder and executive director of My Project USA.
The organization has been a driving force for change in the community. It holds several community events to bring everyone together and to help those in need.
A key part of My Project USA is getting kids away from drugs and gangs.
“Do other stuff,” said Ahmed. “Instead of being in the streets, do something else.”
All of the children left the party with goodie bags full of toys and soccer balls.
Many in the community say they no longer feel shame living here.
“Sometimes, you would hide it (living in Wedgewood),” said Ahmed. “‘I don’t live in Wedgewood.’ You wouldn’t claim it. But now I will claim Wedgewood. ‘I live in Wedgewood.'”
Wedgewood is in the process of building a soccer field for the kids. It is expected to be ready next week.