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> MNCPPC’S Safe Summer Program Enjoys Another Great Year of Keeping Prince George's County and Its Youth Safe During Summer Break
MNCPPC’S Safe Summer Program Enjoys Another Great Year of Keeping Prince George's County and Its Youth Safe During Summer Break
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THROUGH OCTOBER 8, 2010
County residents ages 12-24 spend the summer participating in positive recreation activities
Riverdale, MD -- Safe Summer, a FREE late-night recreation program offered by The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), Department of Parks and Recreation,concluded its successful 2010 program with the start of another school year.
From June 25 – August 21, Prince George’s County residents ages 12-24 were encouraged to join friends Monday through Saturday nights at any of 24 M-NCPPC facilities in the county between 10 pm and midnight to participate in exciting and enriching activities. The fun included dance lessons, photography, sports, team building workshops, recording sessions, and more. Suitland Community Center, a Safe Summer site in Forestville, MD, offered youth sewing and design classes, and celebrated their efforts with an end-of-Safe Summer fashion show.
This was the second year Safe Summer was implemented county-wide. M-NCPPC anticipated another great summer when “Teen Fest,” this year’s Safe Summer kickoff, attracted nearly 1,000 kids for swimming, roller skating, entertainment and other fun activities. The event was followed by more than 5,000 visits to Safe Summer sites during the first week of the program, and averaged over 4,000 visits per week thereafter. The program drew more than 35,000 visits throughout the eight-week period, to sites with plenty of police presence. In fact, Maryland-National Capital Park Police and Prince George’s County Police worked each of the sites every night, not only keeping participants safe but developing good relationships with the young people. Thanks to successful planning and marketing, along with engaged staff and a whole summer of great activities, the young participants kept coming back.
“The recreation opportunities offered at the sites are only half of what makes Safe Summer successful,” said M-NCPPC Department of Parks and Recreation Director Ronnie Gathers. “We hire staff we feel will make the greatest impact on youth by developing relationships with participants and encouraging them to make healthy, positive decisions.”
In addition to hiring capable staff and planning exciting activities, the Department of Parks and Recreation also stormed the internet to ensure youth and parents throughout Prince George’s County were aware of, and excited about the 2010 Safe Summer program.
“In a matter of weeks, the number of Xtreme Teens Facebook page friends grew by thousands,” said M-NCPPC Youth Marketing Specialist Simone Jordan. “This was a pleasant surprise. It shows young people in Prince George’s County are interested in learning about recreation opportunities and are willing to show their friends they “like” their local Department of Parks and Recreation. It earned us some “cool” points.” In addition to Facebook, Safe Summer was on tweeting on Twitter and uploading to YouTube.
Some of the cool factor can be attributed to increased support from local radio stations, national recording artists and local celebrities who came out to champion youth programs in Prince George’s County this year. Safe Summer hosted a National Dance Day event on July 31, which drew a crowd of nearly 700 attendees. Elected officials including Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) and members of the Prince George’s County Council, along with Washington Redskins cheerleaders, came to participate and support the event and the Department’s efforts to get youth moving through physical, recreation activities.
M-NCPPC Youth Marketing Specialist Eric Smith said, “We placed Safe Summer ads in popular hang-out spots for youth this summer, including malls, Metro buses and bus shelters. Our goal is to get young people excited about the M-NCPPC Xtreme Teens brand, and get the community to associate it with positive, safe activities, programs and events, including the Safe Summer program.”
Based on feedback received from 2010 Safe Summer evaluations, parents and youth are already looking forward to next year’s program. As one participant noted, “My dad is strict and doesn’t let me hang out late, but was OK with me coming to the center. I wish this was all year so I could hang out with my friends later on the weekends.”
The good news is that M-NCPPC Xtreme Teens youth programs operate year round. The Xtreme Teens / Pre-Teens Open House for fall programs will be held Friday, October 8, at all 43 community centers throughout Prince George’s County. Young people and their families can stop by and see programs in action and learn about job opportunities, service learning and volunteer options, trips, college preparation, sports, and more.
For more information about M-NCPPC’s Safe Summer or Xtreme Teens year-round programs, visit www.pgxtremeteens.com.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Interviews and photos from M-NCPPC’s 2010 Safe Summer program are available upon request.