Inner-city kids petition for 24-hour drop-in centre
Activist says centre would help keep kids safe from gangs
A group of inner-city kids have come together to try and get a 24-hour drop-in centre to open in their area.
Romando Nilles is leading the charge to have a drop-in centre operate round the clock in the North End.
The 21 year old said kids in the area are at risk of being lured or victimized by gangs, and a drop-in centre with long hours would help keep them safe.
"I’ve just been trying to do things for the kids, so they wouldn’t have to feel scared to walk around or get recruited into gangs," said Nilles.
Nilles’ brother committed suicide four years ago, and he said he has watched other young boys in the neighbourhood go down troubling paths.
"I had this feeling that I wasn’t doing much, and the grieving was really getting to me because of what happened with my older brother," he said. "What I thought would be good would be a 24-hour space where kids could feel wanted and loved."
Right now, Nilles said, young boys in the neighbourhood are being actively recruited into gangs, who try to get the youngest to do their dirty work.
So Nilles and a few of his friends have started a petition to have a drop-in centre open in their area. It now has hundreds of signatures, and they’re hoping to get 1,000 names.
North End resident Jason Houle is just 14 years old and said he has already been approached.
"They asked me if I wanted to be in a gang, and I said, ‘No,’" said Houle.
Nilles said that isn’t easy. "There is a lot of pressure against kids. They don’t want to say no or are scared to say no," he said.
Now, Houle is one of the people trying to help Nilles get signatures. Nilles said once they have 1,000 they’ll head to city hall, with hopes of getting noticed.