BELOIT (WKOW)-- A spike in violence in Beloit this year is sparking concern, especially because several gun-related incidents involved teens. That's why the city proposed the creation of a teen drop-in center.
The center would be a joint effort between the City, NAACP and The Boys and Girls Club. Stateline Boys and Girls Club in Beloit serves hundreds of kids everyday, but one population that is difficult to reach- teenagers.
“Teens are a different group,” said Fred Buggs, the chief professional officer at the club. “You don't want to over program them, just give them a chance to hang out and be with friends.”
The teen drop-in center would target kids 12-18 years-old.
“I think it's just the overall message of this is a safe place, where you can come, be yourself, have caring adults that truly care about you,” said David Wilson, the unit director at the Boys and Girls Club.
The proposed teen center would be located at The Boys and Girls Club, where they already have basketball courts and computer labs. The teens would be separated from the kids, and allowed to stay later, maybe 9 or 9:30.
“We have a lot of opportunities for the teens to grow,” Buggs said. “We have some community outreach kind of programs, mentoring with caring adults so that kind of stuff, I think, will help a teenager who's maybe on the borderline.”
The goal is to get kids off the street and decrease the violence. Both Wilson and Buggs are life-long Beloit residents and say the uptick in gun violence is troubling.
“You know some of the families, you know some of the relatives and it puts a strain on the community cause you have a loss of life,” Buggs said.
“It's disheartening to say the least,” Wilson added.
A community discussion about the proposal will held on Tuesday, September 23 at the Boys and Girls Club located at 1851 Moore Street in Beloit.