More than sports: Montgomery Co. recreation department on violence prevention efforts

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has said the Maryland county is working on a “comprehensive” approach to stemming violence among young people.

The county’s Department of Recreation is part of that effort, and its director, Robin Riley, said the summer “is a really important time just to really keep open conversations” and make sure young people “stay connected with a caring adult.”

Riley told WTOP there are discussions on expanding programs over the summer: “We try to meet with the kids and sort of better understand the things that they’re interested in.”

During the school year, in a program called Rec Zones, lunchtime and afterschool activities included what Riley said was a broad portfolio of outreach.

“It’s everything from workforce development, how to do a resume, job skills, financial literacy,” to mindfulness and yoga, Riley said.

The programs can also include discussions about conflict resolution: “What we’re hearing from kids is their families are feeling stress, and sometimes that stress pushes down to them,” she said.

Tuesday, county agencies met to discuss plans to provide an array of services to help stave off any increase in already high incidences of violence among teens and young adults.

At his weekly briefing on Wednesday, Elrich told reporters, “The fact that so many young people are resorting to violence to settle beefs is an indication that something has gone fundamentally wrong, and we need to figure out how to address it, and how to address it seriously.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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