Moody Park is at the heart of the Amani Neighborhood in Milwaukee. Once an abandoned pool, it has transformed into the COA Youth and Family Center’s home. Residents believe that through a collaborative effort they have taken back a community that just three years ago was full of crime.
According to the Department of Justice in Wisconsin, there has been a 21 percent decrease in crime in the Amani Neighborhood on Milwaukee’s north side from 2012 to 2015.
The decrease is credited to the community center’s activity filled summers.
On Friday, the community center held a celebration to kick off a safe summer. The event included free food and entertainment. There was also a call to fathers in Milwaukee to pledge their commitment in helping end Milwaukee’s violence this summer.
“Residents, we’ve been working hard for years,” said Brenda Heart-Richardson who lives near Concordia and Townsend. “There are a lot of partners in this. No one group can do it all.”
Organizer Sasha Fernandez from the COA center says Moody Park is an example of how communities in Milwaukee can take back their neighborhoods.
“We really want to promote positivity, and we really want to celebrate that the residents did do the hard work. It’s about engagement,” said Fernandez.
The call to fathers came from the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative, which has partnered with Milwaukee’s Common Council to fight crime this summer. It’s all part of a 3-part plan to reach out to the city’s communities and combat crime – that has seen a dramatic increase in 2015. Numbers have persisted into 2016.
"It’s going to take men united with each other to change the conditions,” said Dennis Walton, who has lead the Fatherhood Initiative for the past seven years. “We’re going to let them know how important their role is."