KC's teens enjoy a safer summer
The Kansas City Star
The teenagers have come in droves this summer to dance, talk to friends and have a safe time.
And so far — with one weekend to go — it’s fair to say Kansas City’s plan to provide places for the city’s youth to hang out on Friday and Saturday nights has worked quite well.
Credit goes to a lot of people for this effort, which was called Club KC.
Start with the kids who have come by the hundreds to several community centers and defied at least some expectations by not causing a lot of trouble.
In other words, they kept their promise: Give us a safe place to be and that will reduce other potential problems, especially in the city’s entertainment districts.
Mayor Sly James and the City Council stepped forward to support the project. In fact, this weekend’s final Club KC event for high school and middle school youth will be called “Sly’s Rock the Block.” It will be free and open to the public this Saturday, from 4 p.m. to midnight, on the Troost Avenue bridge between 47th Terrace and Volker Boulevard. The evening will be set aside for a live disc jockey and dancing on the bridge.
Finally, city agencies such as the parks and police departments provided excellent support services for youth at the events.
Club KC came about because of concerns by a number of grownups over where kids would go after a new summer curfew effectively barred them from five districts, including the Country Club Plaza, after 9 p.m. this summer.
A large survey of youths was used to help guide what activities were put in place. The weekend parties with loud music followed, drawing increasingly larger groups that, for example, swelled to 400 to 500 high school-age youth on a weekend night at Brush Creek Community Center.
Looking ahead, city agencies need to review what changes could be made to improve this program in 2013.
Opening even more community centers to Club KC events is one possibility. And the money could be easier to find than this year; last week voters approved a sales tax that will create $3 million a year in extra funds for the parks department.
Kansas City has established a good foundation for youth programming this summer. The potential exists for even better-planned and better-attended summer activities in the future.