Philadelphia offering variety of safe, summer programs to keep kids engaged and active

The School District of Philadelphia and other city departments are gearing up for summer and they want to get the word out on programs that will be available for kids and teens.

The drum line at West Philadelphia High School played Wednesday morning to welcome school district officials, as Superintendent Tony Watlington, and others, rolled out their summer learning program.

The district said it would offer 15,000 students places to learn and play this summer in over 100 school buildings. The district urges parents to act quickly as the slots are expected fill rapidly. At West Philadelphia High School, a drum line program will be offered and junior Nathaniel Cook will jump at it. "You feel like you’re in the best place in the world! That’s what band does for me," said Cook, who wants to be a music teacher as a career.


In the summer of 2023, the district must offer not only learning, but safety. 20 students have been shot and killed this school year with another 100 wounded. 14-year-old Nicholas Elizalde was slain near Roxborough High in September. 15-year-old Devin Weedon was killed on his way to Simon Gratz High in March. High school summer programs will have security.

Kevin Bethel leads the security efforts for city schools. He said in the district’s high schools summer programs, parents will recognize the security efforts. "In our high schools not only will we have two officers and the potential for more, but we will also continue our process of scanning for weapons as we do throughout the school year which is an important part of our work."

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department will run 120 neighborhood summer camps for 6,000 campers ages six through 12, and 15,000 teenagers are able to work as junior counselors in rec. centers where cameras stand watch. Officials say an active, engaged child is often a safe child. Nathaniel Cook says he’ll sharpen his playing this summer and focus on all that’s good. "It’s not just all violence in the city. There are good places too. Violence is overshadowing it."

More information about what the City of Philadelphia is offering for kids and teens in the summer of 2023 can be found on the city's website, here.