Durham activists hope new community center will help give youths a positive outlet

Saturday, December 18, 2021
Durham activists push for more youth havens in communities
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Durham resident Sheryl Smith lost her son to gun violence and hopes the new youth center on East Main Street will help prevent similar tragedies

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham resident Sheryl Smith lost her son to gun violence. She's involved with the new youth center on East Main Street and hopes it will help prevent similar tragedies and provide a haven for youth.

"And keep another parent from going through what I've been through and other parents that (have) been going through this after him and before him," said Smith. "Of course it'll make a difference, because it'll give our youth somewhere to go, somewhere where they can feel safe."

The youth center is run by The Community Builders or TCB in Durham, a nonprofit real estate developer. Youth living in nearby TCB mixed-income housing can use the center and some already have been.

Many say these types of outlets for young people are badly needed now.

Monday, two teens were killed in a shooting near Mathison and Eugene Streets. Four other young people were shot.

Homicides in Durham are up 58 percent from January through September, compared to the year before.

The Marcus Garvey Cultural Resource Center geared toward youth opened in the McDougald Terrace public housing complex in October.

Brittany Jackson has children who go to the community center on East Main Street.

"I feel like we need a lot of centers like this everywhere, because it's boring, like there is nothing to do for them, with the coronavirus," Jackson said.

Councilmember Leonardo Williams said there are plans for more safe spaces for youth in Durham.