Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

Safe Zone Summer program provides safe place for Jacksonville youth

From July 13th thru July 31st, the Safe Zone program opened the doors of various schools around the city to provide a venue for local youth to come for recreation. The program, (initiated by former Mayor Alvin Brown) uses community schools as a safe place for youth to convene, who otherwise would have nothing else to do during the summer months. Some schools that participated in the program were Ft Caroline Middle, Sandalwood High School, Highlands Middle and others….


Duval Sports caught up with Coach Lewey, the program coordinator at the Kirby Smith middle school location. Coach Lewey was the referee for two visiting summer camps who brought their teams over for a friendly game of basketball.Coach Cameron Williams of Word of Truth, and Coach Brandon from Word of Life. Coach Lewey was able to sit down for a question and answer session about the program with us.


Duval Sports: How did you get involved with this program?

Coach Lewey: I’m a science teacher at Kirby, and also the Head Basketball and an Assistant Football Coach. So I was approached by someone from the school with the opportunity to run the program from this location. 

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Duval Sports: What are some of the things that kids do while they’re in the safe zone?

Coach Lewey: Kids play basketball, exercise, play games, and are provided a little snack for the day.


Duval Sports: How long does the safe zone last each day and how long does each attendee normally stay?

Coach Lewey: We get started around 8am and go till the evening. I would say about 90% of the kids who come stay the entire time. Sometimes we have to make them go home. 


Duval Sports: What are some things that you’ve seen that the youth were able to get from coming to the safe zone?

Coach Lewey:  I would say attention is the biggest thing. There is a big need for it. Its just me in there most times, so it’s hard for me to give each of them the attention that they need or desire. But they need attention, and if they get that attention I believe the results would show.


Duval Sports: Do parents come with the youth to the safe zone?

Coach Lewey: Very rarely do I see parents come with the kids. Every now and then you may get a parent to drop their kid off, but for the most part the kids are coming in from the neighborhood on their own. 



Duval Sports: What have you gotten out of coordinating activities and being involved with the youth at the Kirby Safe Zone?

Coach Lewey: An opportunity to work with the youth, and provide a safe haven for them. It’s sad that many youth stay the entire time at the safe zones because they truly have nothing else to do. It was good to provide something positive for them.




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