Summer programs keeping kids off the streets


Local recreation centers and the Boys and Girls Club in Wichita are offering summer programs for children in Wichita to keep kids off the streets.

In recent weeks several crimes involving teens occurred according to stories KAKE News based on police reports. Among the crimes were vandalism's, auto theft, and armed robbery. In light of the situation, summer programs are available giving children the opportunity to stay busy while learning and playing games. Some of them even offer mentoring.

"It just means a lot to be that positive role model," said Zaria Garnes, a youth development professional at the Boys and Girls Club in Wichita. "Not just telling them the right way but showing them what they can do and what they can achieve."

She has won youth of the year honors and has competed at the state level for college scholarships as a part of the Boys and Girls Club. She said she grew up being bullied, so she uses that as motivation for her to teach children.

"I really wanted to reach the kids who were going through some of the things that I was going through, while also reaching some of the kids who were doing some of the bullying," she said.

Garnes said she got away from it, so she wants to encourage the 40 plus children she teaches per day that they can to.

"I've been through this but I've come out of it and I want other youth to come out of it and not just go to where I'm at, but to go further than what I'm doing," Garnes said.

For those that can't get a way from it, city officials say a lack of access to activities leads them down the wrong path.

"It's getting those kids that may not have access to that who are kind of sitting at home," said Brandon Johnson, a city council member for district one who is involved in community programs. "Providing something free for them to do where they have um ways to blow some of that energy off."

If they have already gotten into trouble, Johnson said his solution is teaching them about what they did, instead of sending them directly to juvenile detention or even jail.

"The big thing is community service," he said. "Teach them how to give back, get them involved in the community, give them some work to do, make them understand why what they did was wrong."

Garnes said for her it's about teaching younger minds before they reach the point to where they commit crimes like one's that have occurred recently.

"It doesn't have to be you," she said.

According to Garnes, it all starts with local programs.

"They're here to save lives, they're here to be here for kids who probably don't have anyone," Garnes said.

According to the Boys and Girls Club officials, their programs have reached capacity, but at local recreation centers like the Lynette Woodard Recreation Center, they have lists of activities that go on all summer.