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Summer Programs To Engage Young Residents — And Combat Violence

Summer break is approaching, and city officials are touting a stock of programming geared toward young people.

The idea is to prevent summer brain-drain among young people. But the programs are also considered a key element in keeping them away from crime and violence.

Violent crime is continuing to trend upward in Louisville, according to local police. Shootings and homicides are spiking this year, and 2015 marked a near 40-year high for homicides in the city. Gang activity is also a concern for local law enforcement, Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad told the city's Metro Council earlier this year.

Addressing violence and gangs are community-wide issues, Eddie Woods, an expert on youth behavior, told WFPL during an interview for a story earlier this month. Intervention can disrupt the cycle of gang recruitment and proliferation, he said.

“It’s not even a police problem," Woods said.

And while the programming during summer months is largely voluntary, Councilwoman Mary Woolridge said the city's programs are enough to keep any school-aged resident engaged throughout the summer.

"There's no reason for a child to say 'I'm bored,'" she said at a news conference Monday.

The city's Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods is partnering with the public library system to offer a summer programs specifically geared toward reducing violence. The department will partner with other community groups to host activities at Waterfront Park, according to a press release.

Hundreds of other programs are being hosted this summer by the city's parks system, nonprofits, local colleges, museums, churches, libraries and arts organizations, according to city officials. And Jefferson County Public Schools is also hosting more than a dozen literacy camps for elementary students.

A new searchable database is now available for residents to find specific programs.

Joe Tolan, president of Metro United Way, said ensuring parents are aware of what programs are available is key to ensuring kids continue learning while they're outside school.

"We hope to ensure students all across our community graduate high school on time and move on to college or career," he said.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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