SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — As kids rush out of their schools this summer, the City of Savannah wants to keep them busy and safe. The city is sponsoring many free and low-cost summer camps and programs to fill that need.
“We want young people engaged. The statistics are extremely clear about what happens when school is out. And we know what happens when kids are not actively engaged,” Mayor Van Johnson said. “And so there is a bounty of young people out there who need to be engaged and need to be encouraged and need to have activity.”
As the weather gets warmer and kids spend more time outdoors, Savannah Police say crime goes up. Police said last summer, there were 39 victims of gun violence that range in age from 13 to 24.
Police say this summer, they’re working extra hard to keep kids safe and away from crime.
“We’re looking to encourage our youth and young men and women to think differently and find the courage to challenge the status quo,” Maj. Shinita Young said. “SPD wants a shift in their decision-making to pick up a gun and have a meaningful change in the way that they live and lead others.”
The Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE) is just one of a few organizations helping get kids off the streets and having fun instead of getting in trouble. The summer night lights program happens Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights starting June 8.
Kids are invited to play basketball, games and other sports. The organization is also hosting several summer camps.
“To make sure our kids have a safe and fun environment in which to entertain themselves on the weekend, so they’re not out there during those hours SPD pointed out, those hours were they want to do something, but they have nothing better to do,” said John Bush, director of ONSE.
There are also art summer camps to get kids into their creative side.
The city also has programs to cater to older teens through social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram where they spend a lot of their time.
“Relationships with our, especially our young people. Showing them some love and concern that they can matter also helps to break to reduce the number of crime and violence in our communities,” Estella Shabazz, District 5 alderwoman, said.