Parks Pose Possible Solution to Gun Violence

Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott pilots use of the city parks department to help end gun violence impacting the youth. 

Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott was elected in part because of his promise to end gun violence. In the Summer of 2021, the city’s Recreation and Parks Department was able to pilot two programs aimed at keeping kids safe and engaged until the school year resumed in the fall.

The first program was called Adolescent Recreation Social and Emotional Skill Building (ARSESB) was aimed at helping the city’s youth develop social and emotional life skills.

According to ARSESB:

The ARSES Program is an interactive skill-building  workshop that helps youth ages 8 – 16, better understand and incorporate important social and emotional life skills through weekly workshops. Throughout the workshop, youth will work with specially trained staff, at minimum, certified in Mental Health First Aid, on social & emotional awareness, self-esteem & self- management, peer-to-peer communication and positive conflict resolution, responsible decision making through a variety of commonly known to be favorite games designed with a skill-building component to engage the youth.

The second program was a conflict resolution workshop aimed at 8-18 year olds. The goal was to give children the skills to be able to disarm conflicts before they turn deadly. Bobby Holmes, who administered the program, told The Trace:

“Community violence and gun violence impacts everyone,” Holmes said. “We help youth understand [that] you too can take a role in opposing gun violence, and you too have a responsibility to do something.”

Both programs have been paused due to a lack of funding. In order to resume these programs for the 2022 summer season, the city must find a way to make additional investments.

If you’re interested in how parks can be used to better your community, then you should check out some of the discussions we will be having at this year’s MACo Winter Conference. During the “New Tech for Parks and Rec: Rebooting Public Spaces” session, panelists will be discussing the future of public parks and how technology can enhance this amazing public resource.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Read the full story on The Trace. 

Read more about ARSES.