City leaders roll out summer programming for youth

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – With gun violence occurring regularly in the city, Toledo leaders are prioritizing summer programming for local youth.

Amid the uptick of concern regarding violence, Vinny Riccardi, Assistant Director at The Believe Center, said it’s imperative that the city offers recreational activities for its youth.

“There’s nothing to do that’s always the excuse that a lot of young people have to say. Therefore they gravitate to the negative sort of behaviors ”Riccardi said.

The Believe Center is a nonprofit that provides youth sports programs and other activities for kids.

One of the center’s many programs is a basketball league that’s geared towards young adults. The program runs on Fridays from 7 pm to midnight called The Midnight Run.

“We give a meal and the young men play basketball night. We have referees here so we run real games. They pick their teams they actually get their little jerseys it’s pretty exciting, ”Riccardi said.

He added that a summer league is a safe place for young men to have fun. In addition, the staff also discusses job opportunities with participants.

The center also provides STEM-based programming and scholarships to ensure kids are eligible to register.

“We really want to have a place for the kids to feel safe. To make sure that they feel like they’re comfortable and that they can come to an adult if they really need to. There are going to be fun summer camps we’re going to feed the kids and do little projects but we do also want to make it a little bit educational-based so they’re not getting into that summer slide, ”said Elaina Hernandez, program director for Believe Center.

The Believe Center’s Summer Camp for youth ages 8 to 14 begins in June.

In addition to the Believe Center, a number of other area organizations are encouraging parents to check out the summer programs on the City of Toledo website.

There are nearly 100 programs listed on the website. Among the array of programs are sports camps and clinics, performing arts, visual arts, academic, and career-focused programming as well as mentorship and leadership development programming.

For a full list and to register for the Urban Wholistics Urban Farmer Camp, Puck-A-Luck’s Equestrian Day Camp; Camp Picasso- Toledo Youth Art Camp; Financial Literacy and Empowerment; Cre8tive Mindz Youth Program, or many others, visit the City of Toledo’s website.

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