Jacksonville councilman takes next step, introduces legislation for Moncrief Teen Center to council

Moncrief teen center approved

Residents in Moncrief are one step closer to getting a teen center in their community.

A local councilman and three local organizations are working together on this next step to try and discourage violence among our youth.

Tonight, legislation for the teen center will be introduced at the City Council.

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Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole spoke to one of the organizations that will be running the center to learn how its efforts will be different from those of its predecessors.

"No one deserves to be shot and killed in broad daylight coming home from school.”

Adrian Gainer,16, was shot and killed at the Hilltop Village Apartments near West 45th Street and Moncrief Road in February.

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"I miss him a lot. My last text from him was, 'Auntie, I love you,” Tracy told Action News Jax.

Tracy, Gainer's aunt, asked us not to use her last name because she fears retaliation.

She told Cole she wants justice for her nephew and  just wishes all of the killings would stop.

Councilman Terrance Freeman is partnering with three organizations on a solution: a teen center.

It would be located near the intersection of Moncrief and New Kings roads.

In the first four months of 2019, there have been nine shootings involving kids.

Five of the shootings have been deadly.

In 2018, there were 29 shootings involving kids at least six of them were deadly.

Freeman hopes this teen center can help bring that number down to zero.

The 100 Black Men of Jacksonville, the I’m a STAR Foundation and a gang intervention specialist will run the center, if the concept is approved.

Cole asked Betty Burney, the Executive Director of the I’m a STAR Foundation, what makes this effort different.

"We're not just having a center where children can just come and do nothing," Burney said. "We're going to provide so many opportunities for them -- leadership skills, an opportunity to teach them how to own their own business, develop business plans, healthy living, stem opportunities and field trips. All of those things that keep children occupied."

Cole also wanted to know how the center will get teens to buy into this idea.

“The way that we get the teens to come is to let them know that they have a stake in it. So we're going to have a membership, a no-fee membership," Burney said. "But for them to get a stake into the fact that this is their center.”

Burney told Action News Jax that if the center is approved, the partner organizations would hope to see change within a year of the center opening its doors.

But that would just be the beginning. Cole wanted to know what success would look like one to three years down the road.

“If this is approved, success looks like the fact that we have 90% of our participants graduating high school or more, that we have young people engaged and understand that they have to go to college or get a career. But success for us looks like we're keeping kids out of trouble," said Burney.

We will continue to follow this developing story and bring you the updates.