At the opening of a new center for young people in the heart of North Philadelphia, the community wore their hearts on their sleeves. Frontline Dads cut the ribbon on The Teen Safe Space at the Blues Babe Foundation on North Broad Street in Philadelphia, with the help of a grant from the Philadelphia Eagles. For the organization’s founder, Reuben Jones, it was the realization of a 20-year dream.
Jones, an activist, mentor, and poet, said the goal of the center is to make a positive impact on the lives of young people living in the city amidst its ongoing violence crisis. Inside The Teen Safe Space there are art supplies, an electric keyboard, and video drones. There will be sewing and cooking classes, financial literacy, and features a computer center, a “chill space” with video games, and a library filled with books on self-growth and empowerment.
Outside on Broad Street, Simon Gratz High School music teacher and mother, Yaszmin Belton, was floored to see a safe haven for her students open in North Philadelphia. She said they often ask her where they can go to hang out after school. “The opening is catapulting, beautiful,” Belton said. As a volunteer, she plans to help teach sewing, and hopes to work with young ladies on empowerment, self-care, and conflict resolution.
Kerry Foster, a martial arts instructor and Ph.D. in family therapy, has been a volunteer for Frontline Dads for about 7 years. He works with kids through martial arts to develop concentration and discipline, and how they can use those skills to achieve their goals.
“We invite partners around the city to help,” Jones said in an interview after the event that was paused for him to receive hugs of gratitude from supporters. Jones was shocked and moved to receive a “Hero Award” from The Philadelphia Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Network, and his mentor, James Wells, embraced Jones as they reflected on the “full circle” moment.
Jones threw his hands up in the air after his son Langston, 11, and his wife, Kaphesia Jones, cut the ribbon on The Teen Safe Space. “Today is just the beginning, it’s not the pinnacle of our work, it’s the beginning of something that we want the team to build on and build up,” Jones said.
The Teen Safe Space will be open starting tomorrow.
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