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KC expands youth programs on summer weekends

Updated: 2013-04-24T04:36:47Z

By MIKE HENDRICKS

The Kansas City Star

Kansas City is expanding the youth activities program that began two summers ago after three teenagers were shot and wounded on the Country Club Plaza.

Also being re-evaluated is the 9 p.m. curfew that was imposed after the shooting, which restricted youths not accompanied by adults from being on the Plaza and at four other entertainment districts during the summer months.

Because large groups of kids still congregate on the Plaza on warm evenings at other times of the year, sometimes getting into fights, a council committee will consider a proposed ordinance Wednesday that would make that early curfew year-round.

However, that proposal is facing opposition because it doesn’t include a key component: alternative activities on weekends.

But now the city has at least expanded summer weekend activities.

Last summer, the parks department kept three of its community centers open late on Fridays and Saturdays for eight weekends so teenagers would have some place to hang out where there would be programming and adult supervision.

The program known as Club KC is being expanded to five community centers and will go for 12 weeks, beginning May 24, Mayor Sly James announced Tuesday. The city doubled its funding of Club KC to $400,000 this year thanks to increased revenue from a voter-approved sales tax.

“It’s always been true that kids need a place to hang out,” James said.

From Memorial Day weekend until the end of September, they are not allowed after 9 p.m. without adult supervision on the Plaza, Westport, downtown, Zona Rosa, and the 18th and Vine Jazz District.

But on weekends during those months there will be free late-night activities at the Brush Creek, Gregg/Klice, Hillcrest, Tony Aguirre and Kansas City, North, community centers.

James said the city can’t afford to keep the centers open late every weekend of the year should a year-round curfew be approved.

Unlike last year, Club KC participants will have to register for an ID card, which officials say will make it easier for them to get an accurate count, keep in touch with those taking part and offer incentives for participating.

The first 100 to register at www.kcmayor.org/mayorsnights and pick up their card get a free pass to The Bay or The Springs water park.

Registration is also beginning for three long-running nighttime sports programs for kids to play basketball, soccer and volleyball.

To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4738 or send email to mhendricks@kcstar.com.

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