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Bringing Charleston’s West Side together for a safe space

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The City of Charleston’s West Side has been hit hard by gun violence and tragedy these past couple of months. In order to bring the community together, local leaders and organizations decided to create a fun event to include the area’s youth.

“This is the West Side’s block party. We wanted to get together on a nice day and have some inflatable’s, some food, and some fun in a family-safe environment and to promote some fun times,” said Reverend Michael Farmer at Risen City Church.

The Risen City Church and Step by Step after-school program on Charleston’s West Side are hosting this celebration.

“This should be a safe space for the kids and families that come out and to just have a little bit of fun…we know that there has been some stuff going on here in the community,” said Quinten Burton with Step by Step Afterschool Program.

Just within the past couple of months, the West Side has struggled with devastating fires, floods, and gun violence. The most recent tragedy was the shooting death of an 18-year-old star athlete.

Many students who use this after-school center knew the Capital High School Senior KJ Taylor, who was shot and killed on the west side earlier this month. After KJ’s death, the after-school program, Step by Step. opened their doors five days a week in order to be a resource to his peers.

“Have kids there in a safe space. If they need help with mental health we will help them with anything they need help with. We opened up our center for them,” said Burton.

The goal is to hold fun events like today’s block party to create a safe-place for students.

“Hopefully we don’t just unify in times of mourning, but we can unify in times of celebration,” said Farmer.

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