HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Community leaders along with police in Hot Springs came together for a meeting on ways to stop the violence in the area. The meeting is all a part of the Stop the Violence Coalition of Hot Springs.
In 2019 the community’s Boys and Girls Club closed down and since then the group has been coming together once a month to come up with ways to keep children in the community off the streets.
“It’s very important that this coalition moves forward and be effective,” coalition member Jackie Ferguson said.
City leaders, police, community members and local organizations held a meeting Sunday in hopes of making change for kids throughout Garland County.
“Because we have seen the effects that violence has in our community, especially amongst our young people,” Ferguson said.
This is in response to a spike in violence since Fall 2019.
“We had 11 murders by August,” Co-advisor for Stop the Violence Coalition, Linda Franklin said.
Franklin said it’s unusual to have so many homicides. Since then they’ve started a movement to give kids something more positive to do.
“We got together over at the NAACP and the web center said what can we do,” Franklin said.
Since then the group has grown, local pastors and more leaders have joined in to help. Fast forward to Sunday’s meeting, where they talked about their most recent program.
“We’re going to have a fantastic time at the Champion Center which was formally the Hot Springs Boys and Girls Club,” Ferguson said. “We’re going to do events all week.”
They focused on doing something big during spring break, March 23rd through the 27th they give students something to do.
“Because the children are going to be out of school, there going to be free and that’s when trouble, you know nothing to do they get in trouble,” Franklin said.
The event is limited to 150 students but the coalition thinks this will continue to help make a difference.
“Well there haven’t been any murders since August of last year, which is the big thing but we’ve seen a closeness that is developing and we have an open relationship with our city,” Franklin said.
The name of the event is Spring Break Blast. The week will include art, poetry, photography, core education disciplines, fun, activities, entertainment, family night and a live concert.
This will be held every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Champion Community Center at 109 Belding Street.
They are still looking for more volunteers to help.
If you’re interested in helping or signing up you can contact Jackie Ferguson at 501-282-2371, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.