KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — If you’re looking for something fun for your kids to do this summer, two different organizations are partnering to offer free summer programs for inner-city youth.
The Austin-East community has been hit hard by gun violence this year. Several Austin-East High School students became victims of recent shootings in the area.
Now that summer break is here for students, leaders with the two organizations want to give them a safe place to go.
“I wish I could have had something like this when I was coming up,” said Shocka Zu with Pop Tenn. “Unfortunately, I lost a lot of close friends to gun violence.”
Pop Tenn. which stands for “protecting our people” and Mynark Tribe Inc. are providing unique activities for kids over the summer.
“We’re using martial arts, audio, video production, and dance to reach the kids this summer,” explained Sensei Slim, the creator of Mynark Tribe Inc.
He adds, “Hopefully [we can] take them camping because a lot of kids haven’t been camping before.”
The programs include fishing, hiking, and learning how to build a fire by hand.
One of the other unique activities the kids can participate in is the P.O.P Tenn. Paintball league.
“Being a firearm instructor myself, we want to teach them how to be safe,” explained Dead Eye with P.O.P Tenn. “Even though it is a paintball gun we want to let them know how dangerous guns are. So our purpose for it is to really meet them on their grounds of where they’re at.”
Shocka Zu added, “we’re basically targeting the age of 12 to 18. That’s basically the time kids really start getting into gangs and other activities and mischief so hopefully, we can help direct them.”
The main goal of these summer programs it to teach kids skills that will last them a lifetime.
“We want to turn them into goal-driven children because they’ll turn out to be goal-driven adults,” Sensei Slim said.
Orientation for the ‘Forever Summer’ program is Wednesday.
You can find more information on the program and how to register by clicking here.
P.O.P Tenn. is looking to raise money for their Paint Ball league. You can help support them by clicking here.
Both organizations are also looking for community leaders and mentors for their youth programs. If you are interested in participating you can contact the group leaders directly through their websites or Facebook pages.