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Tolson Center needs help to improve community space

The Tolson Center is fund raising to expand their facility and provide more programs for kids. The project seems to be taking off at the right time as Elkhart Police say youth gun violence is on the rise. 

Regina Johnston is an 18-year-old who lives in Elkhart and she says a lot of kids her age get involved in crime as a pass time.

“A lot of the times it’s just because kids are bored they don’t have anything else to do,” says Johnston. 

The Juvenile Detective Sergeant with the Elkhart Police Department confirms there has been a significant increase in cases and arrests involving juveniles and guns in the past two years. 

“A lot of it is kids just not knowing who they are. So maybe more after school activities or like kids centers or stuff like that, that will help,” says Johnston. 
The Tolson Center has been offering after school and summer youth programs for decades. 

Clyde Riley, Parks and Recreation Superintendent, says up to 250 kids attend Tolson Center a day; and the center could see more.

“But that’s where Tolson’s lacking now we just don’t have the facility the room to meet the needs of the community,” says Riley. 
  
The Tolson Center announced a $2.6 million expansion in 2015. The project is progresses slowly and now they need the community’s help. 

They hope more space for sports, music and art classes, and a new library will help fill a void
 
“There is a decrease in opportunities and the funding is there but in order to get funding you need to have quality programs,” says Riley.
 
Riley is asking the community to see that an investment in this space and these kids is an investment in Elkhart’s future.
 
“We are trying to expand our programs get the facility to meet the needs of our community and provide quality programs to all ages and aspects of our community particularly our youth,” says Riley. 
 
The first five companies to collect $250 or more will earn an engraved brick in the center’s new walk way.

For more information on how to get involved contact Rechica Ledesma at rechice.ledesma@coei.org or 574-295-6456 ext 12. 

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