DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Violence among teens in Durham is on the rise and Friday afternoon the community came together to bring change through the opening of a community center at Calvert Place Apartments near downtown Durham.
Community activist Sheryl Smith started the initiative in October after experiencing an increase in gun violence in the Golden Belt district of Durham.
Within the last month, within the 1-mile radius of the community center at the intersection of Main Street and Angier Street, there have been several crimes which include assault, theft, and even a homicide.
Smith was able to get in contact with the owner of the Calvert Place Apartments and they allowed Smith to rent out a space for the community center for free.
After months of planning, on Friday they held their grand opening with a special bike giveaway, food, and a barber gave free haircuts to the children.
The community center will give children who live in Calvert Place Apartments and Franklin Village a place to go where they can play games, do homework, and enjoy other activities.
Smith said this program is important to help keep children off the streets on a positive path.
“Just look at this, it shows that if we come together it can be good, and we can save our babies. That’s what all of this about. It’s about saving our children and creating a safe haven place to be,” Smith said. “I’m just so emotional trying to keep my nerves together. It’s awesome.”
Smith said the community center will be open every day of December and there will be a set schedule of activities soon.
Smith also plans to open a second community center next year.