"Safe space:" Milwaukee Recreation's 'Summer Stars' program works to keep young people out of trouble

MILWAUKEE -- Teenagers in Milwaukee have been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late -- shootings, carjackings, thefts and more. So how do we keep young people out of trouble, and off the street? Starting Wednesday night, June 22nd, young people in Milwaukee have a safe, positive place to spend the summer.

It is an alternative to spending the summer on the street.

"It can get really busy when all of the teams come in, all the schools," Darice Ellis said.

Milwaukee Recreation's "Summer Stars" program at South Division High School

Ellis chose to come to South Division High School Wednesday night for the first night of Milwaukee Recreation's "Summer Stars" program.

"Because it`s fun. I like the game of basketball," Ellis said.

With all the negative attention some Milwaukee teenagers are getting these days, you might say this program has never been more important.

Milwaukee Recreation's "Summer Stars" program at South Division High School

"I`d rather have all the kids in one building that`s a safe space where they`re doing something constructive than have them in the street doing nothing," Carmelo Cortes, Summer Stars supervisor said.

The program runs from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. -- the time period a study showed many kids are out on the street.

"So we find a place for them to hang out a little bit more. They can come out here for some swimming, open gym, there is a game room, there`s basketball leagues and then there`s a meal program too," Cortes said.

The program is free, or at minimal cost.

Parents can come swim with their kids or just hang out and grab dinner.

"The meals are provided for the whole family," Cortes said.

Milwaukee Recreation's "Summer Stars" program at South Division High School

Buses bring some kids in so they don't have to walk home on dark streets.

Ellis told FOX6 News he's spent the last two summers taking part in this program.

"Mostly every day -- just to get out of the house," Ellis said.

Hundreds of teenagers ages 13-17 take part in this program every summer. It's held at South Division High School and North Division High School as well.

Those who are interested can simply show up at 6:00 p.m. and sign up.

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