Police not alone in Belle Glade anti-violence fight

BELLE GLADE, Fla. - Twins Tommie and Tomara Tucker, 9, from Belle Glade are not living sheltered lives.

"We have to go through a lot of gangs and shootings and stuff like that," said Tommie Tucker.

They're enrolled at St. John Baptist Church's free-of-charge summer camp.

For some children here, counselors say it's either this, or the streets.

"In this community, it's very important for kids to have fun," said Yarhonda Highsmith. "Violence is kind of prevalent."

The church is down the block and around the corner from last night's shooting.

More than 100 children are taking part in the camp's first summer.

Organizers say children in Belle Glade have lots of needs.

"They get three meals a day. Some kids know this is the only three meals they get sometimes. We have games, prizes, we take them on field trips every week," said Highsmith.

But the focus isn't just on the young, it's on young adults.

A group called People Engaged in Active Community Efforts, or PEACE, held a meeting tonight at the church. The topic? Jobs. They say the unemployment rate in the city is nearly 25 percent.

"If you have jobs, then a lot of things happening in the past week probably wouldn't happen," said Rev. Kenneth Anderson of the Mt. Zion AME Church.

They're hoping to convince the county to open a satellite office focusing on small businesses. There are 849 certified small businesses in the eastern part of the county, but only 20 in the Glades.

Rev. Robert Rease of the St. John Baptist Church sees discussion at the PEACE meeting. He sees children playing and going on field trips with summer camp. To him, both are cause for hope.

"Youth here in the Glades, they need exposure. They need to see things that can cause them to dream," said Rease.

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