DANVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — With Danville’s very first youth and teen community center open as of Wednesday, police are hoping it’ll help young community members stay out of trouble.
A major concern for Danville is preventing crime. Founders of the new ‘Peace Community Center’ say that starts with getting area youth involved in more positive activities.
The center’s founders are providing the Danville residents ages 10 to 18 with a free place to play, work, and learn.
The grand opening on Wednesday, Dec. 1 was well-attended, with area leaders, teenagers, and nonprofits lending a hand to the new center.
Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones was one of the speakers at the grand opening.
“People often times ask ‘what are you all doing for our young people? What are you doing?'” said Jones. “We took a police precinct and turned it back into a youth center. That’s what we’re doing.”
Jones is one of many who believe this community center — equipped with a game room, arcade setups, and mentoring services — will allow teens to feel safe and welcomed by the Danville Police Department.
Angie Dixon, founder of the nonprofit ‘Hoop Don’t Shoot,’ brought a group of teens to the grand opening to allow them to experience the facility for the first time.
“They’ll know the police are not against them. That’s why I brought them here today, so they can be a part of this and come in here, so they can be a part of this,” explained Dixon. “Just because they see that police sign, they still know they’re welcome to come in.”
Dajeron Baynes, 18, attended the event with the Hoop Don’t Shoot group and his younger brother.
“I will just be chilling, might play basketball,” said Baynes. “That’s it.”
According to the surveys done by the Danville Police Department, plenty of teens in the area feel that there aren’t many fun activities in which they can participate locally.
This prompted Danville Police Department’s Community Relations Liaison Ashtyn Foddrell to spearhead this project a few months ago.
“We have been able to build so many positive relationships within the community that people are not scared to call us anymore. People are not afraid to give up information when there are things going on,” said Foddrell.
With the help of a $25,000 grant from the Danville Regional Foundation, the project was completed within months.
Danville Police Chief Scott Booth hopes this center will allow officers to build relationships with families and teens.
“Policing today needs to be, and it’s always needed to be, about relationships,” said Booth. “So I really look at this as another step forward for us and another step forward for our community.”
The Peace Community Center is also equipped with an aeroponic garden, offering opportunities for teens to learn about farming and grow their own food.
The center is open Mondays through Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. during the school year and from noon to 5 p.m. when school is not in session. Organizers also plan to hold special events on Fridays and Saturdays.
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