AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - After nine teens were shot and injured in two separate shootings at or near Aurora high schools, several community organizations are stepping in to keep teens busy and out of trouble during Thanksgiving break.
For three days this week, the groups will host two different safe space events where kids can hang out, play sports or try other hobbies related to music or fashion for free. The coordinated effort is put on by Athletics and Beyond, the Struggle of Love Foundation, Families Against Violent Acts, the McBride Impact and Montbello Organizing Committee.
"This week is more about providing a safe space for young people," said Kyle Reese, program director for Athletics and Beyond, a Montbello-based nonprofit that offers athletic training, tutoring, mentoring, and more.
One of those safe spaces will be at Athletics and Beyond's gym, located at 4990 Nome Street. It offers teens the opportunity to jump in the boxing ring, play baseball or basketball, weight train, or even use a study area with numerous resources.
Down the street at the Struggle of Love Foundation's Love Center, located at 12000 E. 47th Avenue, kids can play video games, produce music, or design T-shirts.
Organizers said, so far, a few dozen teens have shown up each day.
"This is way better than staying at home or out in the streets," said 14-year-old Mckiya Johnson. "It's just a way to get out some energy and do something productive."
With the threat of youth gun violence on the top of the community's mind, Reese said he hopes the events offer teens much-needed structure and support.
"There are some young people that just aren't getting the message, and there's someone that's been failed on the other side of things as well," Reese said. "We as adults and we as leaders have a responsibility to make sure they get that message."
The free safe spaces will be open again on Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Athletics and Beyond hopes to host similar events the week of Christmas as well.
"No matter what your circumstance is, you're not alone, someone cares about it, and you can come and be in a safe place," Reese said.
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