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April 24, 2023

Trauma counseling will be offered at Philly rec centers in areas prone to gun violence

A dozen of the city's summer camps will also host weekly mental health education focused on helping children and teenagers

Government Gun Violence
Rec center trauma theray Jared Piper/PHLCouncil/PHILADELPHIA CITY COUNCIL VIA FLICKR

Six Philadelphia recreation centers in hot zones for gun violence will begin to offer trauma therapy counseling. Pictured is one of the sites, Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center.

Six recreation centers in Philadelphia will provide trauma-based mental health services in neighborhoods impacted by gun violence, city officials announced Friday. 

The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency has awarded the Center for Families and Relationships, a nonprofit organization, $999,000 to bring its Together Through Trauma program to six rec centers and 12 summer camps throughout the city.

Therapists will be assigned to Feltonville Recreation Center, Mallery Recreation Center, Tustin Recreation Center, Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center, Mander Playground and 8th and Diamond Playground. 

Those therapists will offer weekly open-access hours at each center, as well as one-on-one counseling sessions, monthly group workshops open to the community and mental health training for rec center staff members.

The programs could start as early as June, the city said.

Mental health services will also be implemented at 12 of the city's summer camps, which will offer weekly mental health education focused on helping children and teenagers understand trauma. 

"Offering youth and families impacted by violence access to mental health services at the rec is a great way to meet young people where they are, with the services they need. As we expand access to rec centers through more weekend hours and make improvements to recreational facilities through Rebuild, the Together Through Trauma program complements these efforts," Mayor Jim Kenney said.

The workshops will be tailored to each of the recreation centers, with help from their staffs and collaboration with community members in each of the neighborhoods. Topics will range from how trauma impacts families and relationships to how to deal with the loss of a loved one due to gun violence. Managing anxiety after a traumatic event and conflict resolution will also be covered.

In Philadelphia, there have been two shootings near and around rec centers in recent weeks. Last Wednesday, a 15-year-old boy was shot in the back near 9th and Jefferson streets at the Dendy Recreation Center around 4 p.m. He was rushed to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, where he is reportedly in stable condition.

Earlier this month, a 24-year-old man was shot and killed on the 6100 block of Ardleigh Street near Awbury Recreation Center. 

Since 2019, more than 300 shootings have occurred at Philadelphia rec centers, 6ABC reported

The city recently responded with plans to install more than 100 surveillance cameras to create a safety net surrounding 14 rec centers. The sites — which include Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center and Feltonville Recreation Center — were chosen by Philadelphia police based on crime data.