- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 19, 2009

The police checkpoints are gone from Trinidad neighborhood in Northeast, where there had been 22 killings by midyear last summer - one of which involved a 13-year-old boy.

As charitable organizations and community members met Wednesday on the playground of the Trinidad Recreation Center, several nonprofits showcased the summer-learning activities of 100 youths. The nonprofits sponsored these activities to help curb youth violence during the summer months.

“Research shows that kids are more at risk of engaging in delinquent behavior when school is not in session,” said Ron Fairchild, executive director of the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University, a sponsor of the event. “So, after school, during the summer, kids are at risk of being victims of crime or actually committing [crimes] themselves.”

The youths, ages 7 to 17, showcased some of the summer-learning activities in which they are participating through various nonprofits, such as the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp.

Youth performances included a hip-hop ballet performance by the Northeast Performing Arts Group, a hip-hop dance performance by Beat Ya Feet Kings, and a dance-and-rap presentation by We Can.

Guest performances included Grammy-nominated Jive recording artist Raheem DeVaughn and 368 Music Group recording artist Phil Ade.

“The summer-learning program keeps me engaged in something positive,” said 15-year-old Deonte Ellis, who is in a sports program at Trinidad Recreation Center, where he plays baseball.

Mr. Fairchild also said this learning program is especially important during the summer, when youths are at risk of experiencing academic setbacks.

“Young people that are not engaged in constructive learning activities during the summer months experience huge setbacks,” Mr. Fairchild said. “Today’s event is really a celebration of a community that came together to make sure that kids are engaged in high-quality learning experiences during summer months to prevent those setbacks from happening, to make sure kids go back to school in the fall prepared and ready to learn.”

President Obama proclaimed July 9 National Summer Learning Day. In the proclamation, the president said, “Working together, we can help students remain engaged and return to school with lithe and limber minds.”

Joseph Young is a freelance writer living in the District.

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