Philly aims to pack summer season full of activities for young people

Philadelphia is planning to have a summer full of events in order to keep youth out of trouble.

Families enjoy the sprinkler park at Ferko Playground

Families enjoy the sprinkler park at Ferko Playground in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia during a summer heat wave on July 20, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

As the weather turns warmer, city leaders have finalized plans to offer young people safe events throughout the city to help them avoid violent incidents.

This year’s programming is being called “It’s a Summer Thing,” taking its cue from the Eagles’ “It’s a Philly Thing” slogan for this year’s Super Bowl run.

Events for kids this summer will include enhanced recreation center programs and playstreets, when blocks will be closed down to traffic so kids can play. Parks and Rec’s Summer Food Service Program will also offer free lunches or snacks as well as free use of play equipment and other supplies.

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Deputy Mayor Vanessa Garrett Harley said the programs are designed to prevent violence by making activities available almost around the clock, including city resource centers.

“Community and resource centers are open from 7 a.m. until 2 a.m., which are critical hours sometimes when people are looking for something for their young people to do that is positive and engaging,” she said. “So they don’t just have to be hanging out.”

First Deputy Police Commissioner John Stanford adds that officers will be enforcing a 9:30 p.m. curfew for those under 13, and a 10 p.m. curfew for those aged 14-17.

“We want to make sure we don’t create a bad experience for any young person out there to enforce curfew, we have to be smart as to how we do that,” Stanford said.

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Those violating curfew will either be taken to their parents or to resource centers until their parents can pick them up.

The city is hoping to raise funding for 8,000 summer jobs and has more than 3,000 slots open for day camps. That’s in addition to playstreets and playgrounds that will be open extended hours in order to offer a safe alternative on the city streets.

Officials say they are also going to open as many pools as possible in order to provide a safe place to cool off.

Last summer, the city was able to open 47 pools. This year, Parks and Rec officials hope to open more than 60. The department is offering $1,000 bonuses to lifeguards in order to keep them in place for the summer. There will also be numerous spraygrounds open in places where there aren’t pools available.

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