Horton’s Kids, a D.C. nonprofit that works to empower children in under-resourced communities, celebrated a milestone this week as the group unveiled a new media center in Southeast.
It’s meant to give young people a creative outlet, allowing them to express themselves by producing music or recording podcasts, among other activities.
“Our belief and mission is that all kids have the potential to change the world and they just need the tools to do that,” said Manuela Testolini, founder of In a Perfect World, a nonprofit that partnered with Horton’s Kids to build the new space.
The idea is to harness the power of music, art and technology to empower young people, steering them away from potential trouble or violence.
“This gives youth a chance to channel their energy into something positive,” said Testolini. “If you are busy here because you have a podcast to do and you’re learning a new skill, then you’re less likely to be involved in the things that make the news that we don’t want to hear about.”
Rahaman Kilpatrick, director of family engagement and advocacy at Horton’s Kids, said the media center helps him “compete with the streets.”
“This is going to help prevent so much of that violence that could go on,” Kilpatrick said.
The media center takes up just one section of a building in Southeast D.C. that Horton’s Kids purchased in late 2021. It features 19,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, giving children a space to play, learn and grow.
The building — which used to be a church — even provides space for partner organizations to facilitate one-on-one mental health counseling with licensed professionals.
In a survey of families, Horton’s Kids said that 56% responded saying they needed “more support accessing mental healthcare.”
“A source of depression was growing up in violence and not feeling like I was in a safe environment,” said Nyasia McKamey, who is 23 years old but got involved with Horton’s when she was just 7. “Horton’s Kids helped me through that.”
According to Horton’s Kids, its new building will allow the group “to expand our presence in the neighborhood and strategically position us for future growth and partnerships.”