Central New York, Poverty, Public Safety

Syracuse Community Center Aims to Prevent Violence Through After-School Programs

Students at Syracuse Community Connection created this quilt during an after-school program. The students created a rap about the people on the quilt. (C) Anna Azallion

Click play above to learn about the local community center providing after-school and weekend programs to kids, teens and families. 

Audio transcript: SCRIPT

By Anna Azallion, SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — After a string of violence involving teens in Syracuse, many community members are looking for solutions. A local community center provides after-school and weekend programs for kids, teens, and their families which they said is part of the solution to the violence.

Valerie Hill, the director of these programs at Syracuse Community Connections said they aren’t your typical after-school programs.

“The programs we have here definitely are prevention programs, and some are intervention,” she said.

At the programs students can record spoken word or raps, learn to sew and learn about Science Technology Engineering and Math. Hill says the program also teaches kids about poverty and alternatives to drugs, alcohol and drug violence. One of the ways they do this is through rap.

Syracuse Community Connections has a room students can use to record spoken word or raps. Hill says she approves the rap topics, only allowing raps about math, science, and famous quotes. One rap kids of all ages and backgrounds from the program have created uses Nelson Mandela quotes and talks about poverty.

The rap begins with a Nelson Mandela quote, “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity. It is an act of justice,” the kids and one of their instructors raps. Later in the rap, the kids repeat the phrase: “You are powerful, I am powerful.”

Messages like the one exemplified in the rap is part of the reason Hill says the kids that go to their programs will be able to avoid some of the things that can lead to violence.

“When they see something that’s negative they will avoid it and know how to solve conflict in a very positive way,” Hill said.

Hill also said recently violence involving teens hit close to home. One of the teens injured in a recent shooting attended the programs at Syracuse Community Connections.

“Unfortunately he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Hill said.

She said he wasn’t involved in drug dealing or gangs, but that a bullet meant for someone else accidentally hit him.