This time last year, the city of Baltimore was plagued by violence and riots after the unfortunate death of Freddie Gray. No one can forget the images of young people coming face to face with officers in a smoky city on fire. Now, Ericka Alston hopes to provide a safe alternative for children with her program Kids Safe Zone.
Ericka acts as the director of Youth Services, Violence Prevention & Community Outreach at West Baltimore’s Penn-North Community Resource Center, and opened the Kids Safe Zone just one week after the riots began. She felt that children of Baltimore had no other outlet during that tumultuous time, so the world saw them throwing rocks and trash cans.
In an interview with Baltimore Style, Ericka proudly admitted, “[Kids Safe Zone] had over 10,000 visits from children, so we’ve rebuilt a sense of security: The community knows where their children are, and, most importantly, that they’re safe.”
This is important, especially in a city that has footprints painted on the ground, outlining the safest walking route to school. Ericka continues to raise funds for the program and continues to expand. Hopefully, more children of Baltimore will join Ericka in the Kids Safe Zone, and more importantly be reminded that they matter.