Youth summer programming in Columbus designed to keep kids safe

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–The City of Columbus is launching a wide range of summer programming for youth. The move is designed to keep kids safe, off the streets, and out of trouble.

From late-night basketball to summer employment, Mayor Ginther is hoping by offering more programs to choose from, kids won’t choose to commit crimes.

“This has to stop. This is unacceptable in our city and I need everybody else to step up,” Ginther said, referring to the shooting of a 9-year old girl just a day earlier. “Every child in this city deserves to be safe, to have an enriching, instructive programming for them to participate in, but it’s going to take all of our help. Everyone stepping up and doing more to make sure our young people are safe.”

Last fall, LaTonya Nichols said her youngest child, 15-year old NoFeir Cannon, was shot and killed after he grew restless and wanted to leave the house.

“He went to his friend’s house. You know, the pandemic was getting to him. He didn’t…He just wanted to be outside. And I broke down and said yes,” she said. ” “In one split second, a bad decision, and then they’re gone.”

Ginther said the programs won’t be a cure-all for the problems in the community and hopes the extra money and extra programs will help.

“We certainly haven’t talked about this level of investment, from the commissioners, from the city, our non-profit partners directly into programming for young people and youth employment and I think those things are going to make a difference.”

Programs include expanded hours for recreation centers to be open during the summer months.

“Starting next month, ten community centers will be open for late-night basketball from 6 to 11 pm. a safe place for our young people to be this summer,” Ginther said.

Another program will provide summer employment and workforce training to teens.

“I think it’s going to be a shot in the arm for both young people that are able to take some of these jobs that companies haven’t been able to fill but also, their parents being able to get back into the job site as well,” Ginther said.

The mayor also provided an update on the search for a new police chief.

Ginther said they’re narrowing the potential names down to finalists who will participate in a virtual town hall for the community on May 19th. A final decision still expected by the end of the month.

For a list of summer programming offered by the city, you can visit the city’s School’s Out page here.

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