POP-UP PARK: Positive programs to help at-risk youth - KMSP-TV

POP-UP PARK: Positive programs to help at-risk youth in Minneapolis

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

In some Minneapolis neighborhoods, helping at-risk youth stay off the streets in the summer is, at the very least, a challenge -- but an initiative involving positive programs is offering a solution.

It's fair to say the corner of Penn Avenue North and Golden Valley Road has seen its share of problems. In the summer months, speeding police cars and loud sirens regularly pierce the calm of the neighborhood -- but in an empty right across the street, the city's new Pop Up Park made its debut.

"We know that kids are drawn to food and music, and those are the two main things we wanted to have at every Pop Up Park," Sasha Cotton, youth violence prevention coordinator for Minneapolis. "So, they'll pop up throughout the city 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m."

Cotton said the Pop Up Parks hope to attract at-risk youth in the city between the ages of 12 and 17.

"In particular in low-income communities, parents just don't have the resources to find the camps," Cotton explained.

The city hopes to offer mentoring as well as access to programs and sports young people may not be aware of -- but part of the challenge is the police.

"There's a lot of bad blood between the community and police, you know," Mohamed Hubbard said.

Many of the young people who have already had run-ins with officers simply don't trust them.

"Let's get real," Camilya Jenkins said. "What they may want to do, they know that they cannot do."

Organizers say they know a police presence can scare people away, which is why they will be limited and officers won't be leading any activities -- but while the intentions may be good, being relevant is another challenge.

"It's not me," Bruce Solomon said. "I just wouldn't go to that at all."

Although the inaugural park event was called off at 6 p.m. due to lightning, several dozen kids did show up.

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