April 2023

Columbus leaders work to steer youth away from crime this summer

City leaders know that with warm weather, sometimes the dark cloud of violence can come along with it.

April 10th, 2023; WBNS

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Everywhere you look you see signs of spring across central Ohio. From trees blooming to parks full of people.

City leaders know that with warm weather, sometimes a dark cloud of violence can come along with it.

“We all strive to make sure that our neighborhoods are safe,” said Stephanie Hightower, the CEO and president of the Columbus Urban League.

She said keeping the youth out of harm’s way is her number one objective this summer.

“As adults, how do we keep our kids focused on getting to these wonderful opportunities that we know exists in our community,” said Hightower.

This summer, the Columbus Urban League has several programs geared toward the youth. For example, there is a six-week readiness program that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math, and the Summer Youth Project, where students receive training and support in the development of a video and YouTube blog. Participants can even get paid.

“Everybody likes to get a paycheck and to have that pride and to be able to have that fulfillment and really actually learning something and being with adults who are mentors who are helping you create that pathway to success,” said Hightower.

Bishop Timothy J. Clarke of First Church of God said summer programs are a great tool to keep kids away from violence.

“Let’s let our children have the beauty of spring and summer, let’s let our families not have to take caskets to the cemetery,” said Clarke.

Last year, the city of Columbus installed solar-powered light and camera towers in 22 parks, including a tower at Bicentennial Park where 16-year-old Olivia Kurtz was killed and five others injured in a shooting in May 2021.

A spokesperson with Columbus police told 10TV the towers will remain in parks this summer and they also plan to beef up their presence throughout the city.

“Trust me when young people get that hands on…they know authenticity when they see it,” said Hightower.

Read the article here.

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