After-school program in Rochester educating children about and preventing violence
Rochester, New York – Although Cameron Community Ministries may appear to be a typical after-school program, the youngsters who attend from all over the city are learning more than just how to complete their arithmetic homework there.
“Keeping myself safe from getting kidnapped or getting shot,” said third-grader Erich Plummer.
The program is situated on Cameron Street in Rochester’s Lyell-Otis district, which is also one of the city’s most dangerous and low-income areas.
“There’s a lot of violence, there’s a lot of prostitution, there’s a lot of drugs, there’s a lot of killing over here,” said Qutisha Britt, parent, and closing house manager for Cameron Community Ministries.
The initiative specifically selected this area so that it could teach kids about and prevent violence.
“A lot of our children are from right here on the Lyell Avenue area, so they kinda see and deal with everyday violence,” said Britt. “So it’s kind of an easier way for us to touch base on that subject with them.”
It is crucial to teach kids how to avoid violence because of Rochester’s persistently high homicide rate and rising violent crime.
“Sometimes I get a little scared because I feel like the same thing’s gonna happen to me,” said Nahla Barton, a fourth-grader at Rochester Prep Elementary.
Having a place like Cameron where they feel comfortable makes a huge impact for kids like Nahla.
“I learned how to stay safe at Cameron,” Barton said.
“We know that if you don’t have the right support set up, if you don’t know the resources that are available out here in Rochester, things can get hard,” Britt said.
“Things could be a little rough, so it’s very important that we find safe havens for our children so when we’re at work or at school and they have to be out in the community, that they’ll have somewhere like Cameron to come.”
Resources like Cameron not only allow kids to return to being kids, but they also give parents peace of mind regarding their children’s safety.
“I like it here because it’s the best and it’s the best thing you could ever do,” said Sir Jones, a third-grader at School 29.
Families from all across Rochester are urged by the ministry to look for the available resources.