SACRAMENTO (CNN NEWSOURCE) – This is no ordinary bowling night.
It’s called a “pop-up” event.
A city-funded effort to give kids something to do on a Friday night and keep them from getting into trouble on the streets.
“It has been a huge success,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.
“It’s really fun to just have a place to come here and bowl and eat food and enjoy myself,” Zay said.
“It’s people that’s their age come to do the same thing as them and knowing that they don’t have to be outside doing something to get them in trouble,” Keonna King, a Pop-Up participant, said.
Outreach efforts like this are being credited with a dramatic statistic.
It’s been two years since anyone younger than 18 has been murdered in the city of Sacramento, something the police department says hasn’t happened in more than 35-years.
“It’s not a coincidence that we have not had a single youth homicide in two years, we pray that continues,” Steinberg said.
So how do these kinds of programs help reduce youth violence?
“Instead of being out on the street, they’re in a controlled environment,” Les Simmons, Community Center Founder, said.
Les Simmons runs one of the pop-up programs out of his South Sac Community Center.
“It gives them an alternative to it, a place to be around adults, around people who can help give them a safe environment,” Simmons said.
But the programs come with a cost
The city is spending $1.3-million a year on these weekly pop up events.
“You can not put a price on keeping thousands of young people safe,” Steinberg said.
“I think one point three is a small price to pay to stop violence,” Simmons said.
The mayor says it’s an accomplishment that should not be taken for granted.
“This is every bit as important as traditional public safety. Investing in young people, you can’t go wrong,” Steinberg said.