Parties tonight aim to keep teens safe

June 05, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

More than 300 Baltimore students and adults will spend this evening dancing, hanging out with friends and perhaps turning up on television in a nationwide party aimed at preventing teen violence.

Called Safe Night, the program is expanding for the first time outside Wisconsin. Organizers estimate that it will include 1,100 parties in every state, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The biggest Baltimore party, one of 26 in Maryland, will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Pleasant View Gardens Multipurpose Center, 201 N. Aisquith St. Intended for students ages 12 to 15, it could be among the parties included in a broadcast by the Black Entertainment Television cable network and Maryland Public Television.

"We're expecting over a million youth to be part of this celebration," said Laura Stoffel, marketing coordinator for Safe Night USA, based in Madison, Wis.

Stoffel said Safe Night was developed in 1994 after a rise in the youth homicide rate in Milwaukee and the city health department began the parties as prevention.

Along with PBS and BET, co-sponsors include Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National 4-H Council.

During the past six months, Lisa Parker, a Baltimore AmeriCorps volunteer, has worked with a group of local junior and senior high students to plan the party at Pleasant View Gardens. The party will include food, dancing, a fashion and a talent show, and a teen forum about youth violence.

The telecast will begin at 9 p.m. from primary party sites in Los Angeles, Washington and Milwaukee, and briefly dropping in at some of the others.

Other events will be held at the Middle East Community Center, 1100 Rutland Ave, 410-522-7474; and Roosevelt Recreation Center, 1221 W. 36th St. (call the Hampden Family Center at 410-467-8710). The Southwest Teen Center will join the Pleasant View Gardens party.

For more information about that event, call Cecelia Knox at 410-752-5243 or visit the PBS Safe Night Web site at www.pbs.org/- safenight/.

Contributing writer Ricky Beyer provided information for this article.

Pub Date: 6/05/99

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