CHICAGO (WLS) --Keeping children safe in Chicago this summer is the focus of a safety campaign that kicked off Tuesday.
The Safe Summer initiative, called "Building Community Block by Block", launched a week ago as a holistic approach to gun violence prevention. The new program is an extension of Safe Passage and will help children get to and from recreational activities in parks.
"Our kids deserve their childhood. They are growing up way too early in life, way too hardened. And the Safe Passage route ensures that they can make it here to this playground, to this park," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.
The program will start this week in 20 parks and be scheduled in late afternoons and evenings around programming for teens. The workers will be concentrated in several neighborhoods identified as areas prone to violence and will work to engage kids in positive activities.
The brainchild of 4th Ward Ald. Sophia King and 3rd Ward Ald. Pat Dowell, the new program also seeks to engage youth through advocacy, entrepreneurship, and summer jobs.
Some of the kids involved in the program said they are already learning valuable skills, such as anger management.
"We get in peace circles and we interact more with each other. Just talk about our past and old conflicts and try to move forward in life," Lorontae Brown said.
The Safe Summer initiative is a pilot program. If deemed successful, it will more than likely be expanded into other neighborhoods next year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.