The Simon Circle Boys & Girls Club received a grant last year through the Strategic Prevention Framework – State Incentive Grant project, a program that offers teens ages 13 to 17 a place study, learn and play, while also educating them about sex and the dangers of drug use and underage drinking.
Since the program began, the surrounding community has been a little safer, says the Dover Police Department.
"Last summer there were zero crimes committed by teens in the Simon Circle area," said Amy Perkins, the director of marketing and communications for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware.
The Dover Police are giving the Boys & Girls Club and the SIG program its fair share of the credit.
"The program gives kids a place to go, it keeps them from hanging out on the streets," said the Dover Police Department's Sargent of Community Policing Marvin Mailey.
The SIG program was implemented in April 2012 when the club held a community celebration. The club brought in DJs from 101.7, held a Madden video game tournament, set up rock climbing and had local groups come in to perform.
The celebration was held to kick off the club's Friday night program where neighborhood teens can come to the club from 6 to 9 p.m. and play games, take advantage of the open gym or just hangout through a drop-in program that does not require kids to sign up or come every week. Teens come at their own leisure. Typically between 65 and 70 kids participate in the program each week, Perkins said.
Some Fridays, teens will also get the opportunity to go on field trips. They were taken horseback riding, toured a local college and 15 of the program's kids were even given the real-life Scared Straight treatment.
"We took kids to the local jail so they could see what it's really like and to show them what would happen to them if they got in trouble," Perkins said.
The program is headed by project director Harold Burnett who held a series of town hall meetings prior to the start of the program. He asked community members and parents what kind of activities they would want their children to be involved in.
The program also gives teens a place to go after school Tuesday through Thursday, where they can get homework help and tutoring. The after school program typically serves around 20 kids, Perkins said.
"It provides kids with a safe after school environment," she said. "It keeps them away from outside influences."
Thanks to the program, the Boys & Girls Club has become one of the largest and most visible organizations in Simon Circle, Perkins said.
"We have two community partnerships with local alternative schools, Parkway and Kent County Alternative School − they run programs in the school. Parents want to get involved and volunteer with us," she said. "The community has really rallied around the program."
Page 2 of 2 - Not only did Dover Police have no incidents involving teens last summer, they have seen a drop overall, according to the department.
"We don't respond to as many violent crimes out there as much," said Mailey. "The crime rate has stayed pretty low since the community outreach event."