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Lack of youth programs gets Atlantic City Council's attention

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Atlantic City's youth got some attention at Wednesday's City Council meeting. LaToya Dunston opened the Multicultural Community Center on North New York Avenue a little more than a year ago. But she had to close down after she says parties used as fundraisers were shutdown due to what she said were threats of fines from the city. "Where do the youth go? Where do they go?" she asked council, as the men on the dais stared back in silence. "No answers." But she did get some Wednesday, after she and some supporters spoke during the public portion.
LaToya Dunston is surrounded by city officials trying to work things out outside council chambers. Council President Marty Small had several members of City Hall talk to Dunston and set up a meeting to find out what happened. Councilman Frank Gilliam suggested trying to find funding for programs like Dunston's. "There's has to be some kind of resolution," he said. "We have to address the lack of opportunities for young people in Atlantic City." Treshawn Ramos, 17, said there were things for the kids to do when he was growing up in Atlantic City.  But since he returned recently after moving out for about five years, he's seen nothing. "If our youth is not on the agenda, there should be no agenda," said Steve Young, president of the local National Action Network. "I'm extremely aggravated the fact that we continuously thrown the recreation departments and programs that are supposed to service our children to the trash," Councilman Mo Delgado said. "When we don't give our children options, we turn around and blame them for all the errors that they've done," he said. "We should be ashamed for that. We need to continuously give these children options." Dr. Bailyn Bunting, of the American Engineering and Science Robotics Academy, invited Ramos to come to her STEM program at Atlantic Cape Community College. The program — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — has several sponsors, including the city. Bunting said she has 29 students, including 17 from Atlantic City. Ka'Niyah Shepperson, 10, just wants to be able to dance. She is part of Dunston's Xclusive Drill Team. The fifth-grader spoke briefly before council. Outside chambers, she said dance is what she loves, and she misses being able to go to the community center, where she could help other girls learning to dance. "It was sad," she said of the closing. "It helps me. And I like when kids have a hard time dancing , I can help them."

Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Monday, April 15, 2024
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