Shining a light on kids safety, Philadelphia promotes Lights on Afterschool

Thursday is a national awareness day to shine a light on how after-school programs are helping keep kids away from violence.

"Night after night, it tears me up. It tears me apart," Tahira Fortune stated.

Fortune, a North Philadelphia resident, understands the pain of losing youth to gun violence, as she lost her 18-year-old son, Samir, in February 2017.

"He had a dream and his life was cut at 18-years-old," Fortune said.

Fortune founded an organization called Voices by Choices in her son’s honor, to help other families who have lost children to gun violence. Fortune hosted a trauma support group for the first time Wednesday night, inviting a therapist to meet with victims’ families at Winchester Rec Center.

"When you’ve lost a child, you’re dealing with trauma 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Fortune elaborated.

Fortune said children need safe places to go and positive activities to keep them alive.

"They get to come and eat and get homework done," Winchester Rec Center Facilities Supervisor Jameele Mitchell said. "You get to be a resource and get to see these kids grow up."

Lights on Afterschool, an alliance designed to shine a spotlight on all rec centers serving as a vital youth lifeline, is Thursday. Winchester Rec Center celebrated Wednesday, by crafting with Mayor Kenney.

Reaching children early in hopes of preventing crime from reaching them, rec centers are not immune to gun violence – no place is – as the Philadelphia homicide count climbs, sadly surpassing 450.

"We gotta get them at this age. We’re doing the best with the resources we have and taken twice as many guns off the street this year than we did last year," Mayor Kenney remarked. "And guns keep flowing. I don’t think our forefathers had this in mind when they wrote the 2nd Amendment."



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