The TraRon Center in Southeast D.C. offers art therapy for young people affected by gun violence.
Founder Ryane Nickens shared a drawing of two people shooting guns that a child produced when asked to draw what they saw around them.
“Even a 4-year-old will say, ‘Well, they were shooting in my neighborhood,’” Nickens said.
“That’s how they view their community,” she said.
Nickens started the center four years ago and says one of her biggest passions is helping young people.
“That they will still hope, they will still dream, they will still have their childhood and fond memories of their childhoods,” she said.
Nickens lost her uncle David, her sister Tracy and her brother Ronnie to gun violence.
The TraRon Center is named for her brother and sister.
“It is my living memorial to my sister and brother, in the hopes that it will never happen again to another family the way it happened to ours,” Nickens said.
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Throughout the city, recreation centers offer after school activities like computer lessons and sports to help children.
“I know that what kept me on the straight and narrow was really just staying engaged in these activities,” D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Delano Hunter said.
He grew up going to D.C. rec centers and pays it forward, making sure other kids have a safe place to go, too.
“Sometimes it’s a good shelter from some of the less-than-desirable elements that are happening in the broader community and sometimes within their homes, but also you are connected with caring adults that are committed to their personal development,” Hunter said.