When it comes to brainstorming ways of influencing change, there are a plethora of ideas exchanged at community meetings. Now that the 69th Precinct Community Council has launched a series of discussions on actively tackling gang violence, many are willing to invest time in youths in an effort to curtail the recent increase in shootings.
“Don’t just talk about it, be about it,” said Fresh Creek Civic Association President Maria Garrett.
The third Gang Violence and Prevention meeting was hosted on Thursday, March 10th to discuss, update and report on recreational activities that will be available to youngsters.
Held at the 69th Precinct, 9720 Foster Avenue, elected officials zoned in on local “hotspots” where youth crime has notoriously been the most active. The meeting focused on the Bayview Houses and the area around I.S. 68 Isaac Bildersee – along Flatlands Avenue from East 80th to East 85th Streets.
Paul Curiale of Millennium Development reiterated that the Bayview Houses Community Center will soon increase its hours of operation and they would also like to expand their recreational programming to Canarsie Pier.
“We’re working with the National Park Service to get programs like fishing for our kids at the Pier,” said Curiale. “But we’ll still offer programs like sports and soon we’ll make our music studio available.”
The civic leader also said that since his organization sponsors many of the programs at the community center, anyone who would like to spearhead new activities for children has to go through a screening process before they are approved to bring their creative skills to the center.
Garrett, who is retired and wants to give back to the community, plans to do her part by volunteering to host crochet classes for youths at the Bayview Community Center as soon as the sessions can be coordinated.
Dr. Windsor Nelson, from Alpha Leadership Academy, said free programs will be available to youths every Saturday in mid-April at Bildersee. His academy offers leadership courses such as marketing, technology and music. Dr. Nelson said he currently attracts participants through word of mouth and that his programs have also been operating virtually.
Other speakers expressed the grim reality – that youths won’t simply take part in mentoring activities because they’re available at a nearby center. Many feel at-risk youths need positive friends who are helpful in pulling them off the streets and including them in productive outlets instead of turning to gangs and guns.
The new youth officer at the 69th Precinct, P.O. Tanisha Mayfield, was also among the speakers. Mayfield currently coordinates the NYPD Explorer Program, which has been a successful mentoring tool for many decades.
With an increase in crime hotspots all over the city, many feel stronger actions need to be taken to bring down the number of shootings – especially those that are gang related.
President of the 69th Precinct Community Council Gardy Brazela said that these inspiring sessions are proof that stakeholders have targeted ideas and resources to offer our youths.
Finances have been pumped into keeping many programs alive, and Mayor Eric Adams’ office continues reopening the city’s recreational centers in light of pandemic rollbacks. Stakeholders will also be surveying youths at community centers to see would keep them active and interested. The hope is that ongoing forums will produce substantial plans and ideas for youths to take advantage of while keeping them out of trouble.