Naturally Impactful: Free Cap City Nights Festivals Begin June 4
Columbus Recreation and Parks begins their Cap City Nights Festival series this Saturday, June 4th, at the Linden Community Center. The eight free festivals are ways to get to know your neighbors and also find out more about the APPS program offered through the department to help youth keep out of trouble.
“It’s the kick off for a safe summer,” says Mario Martin, APPS Program Director.
Martin has been with the APPS (Applications for Purpose, Pride, and Success) program since it began in 2011 under former mayor Michael B. Coleman as an initiative to “reduce crime and violence by increasing protective factors in the lives of Columbus youth and young adults (ages 14-21) through proven prevention and intervention strategies.”
“When the opportunity came to be a part of the leadership of APPS, I had to take it,” says Martin. Martin grew up in the Beatty area on the Near East Side and graduated from East High School. “I’m very familiar with the obstacles these kids face.”
Martin enjoys working on new ways to get kids involved in the preventative part of the APPS program – cooking classes, sports activities, ping-pong, art projects, job training, and more. “Basically anything we can think of that kids show interest in,” he says, that will entice kids to come to the programming and stay off the streets and out of trouble.
Free programs are offered on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 7:30pm to 11:30pm at four target community centers: Barack Community Center, Beatty Community Center, Glenwood Community Center, Linden Community Center. They are neighborhoods in critical need of the caring mentors that staff the APPS programs.
“We’re here to provide guidance and mentorship,” says Martin. “The most important thing is the relationship that is built between a young person and a mentor.”
APPS has seen continued investment from the City of Columbus and support from Coleman and now Mayor Ginther. In the five years of the program, support made by the city has grown from the initial $400,000 to $1,229,335 and has impacted hundreds of kids. While the focus is on specific targeted areas, youth from all areas of the city are able to participate in the programming.
“When we start talking about the issues of violence, it affects all of our communities and demographics,” says Martin. “It’s not isolated to the inner city of Columbus.”
Martin has seen many of the youth that began in the program continue to come year after year. Some kids hear about the program through the promotions, or through friends, or at the Cap City Nights Festivals. Others are brought into the program through outreach done on the street level by community partners.
“We partner with Communities for New Directions and the Columbus Urban League to work with kids on the street level, going out in the community every day to build relationships with kids who really need it,” says Martin.
“There are many opportunities for kids to do more with their life,” he continues. “These people are taking risks every day to connect these kids to a case management program. Where there are issues in the communities, they are the ones to intervene to try and prevent any further violence from taking place.”
A kid headed toward the wrong direction does not always see the path they should be taking and the trained intervention specialists with APPS are there to provide guidance and support.
“The normal support system isn’t in place for some kids,” says Martin. “But APPS is there. APPS is there immediately for that kid who is ready to take the steps to change. We build the bridge and let them come across when they are ready.”
APPS is always looking for volunteers and individuals who would like to be a mentor, or simply play a game of basketball, or talk to a young person.
Cap City Nights Festivals are taking place throughout the summer and in areas around the city. The free festivals will bring together live music, free food, games, and family fun, with the purpose to bring together neighbors and have people enjoy their community.
“When you get to know your neighbors a little better you look out for them,” says Jenny Horn, Marketing Manager for the Columbus Recreation and Parks.
The season kicks off on Saturday, June 4 at the Linden Community Center. Local Matters will be on site from 6:30pm-7:30pm doing a healthy food demo. Information about the summer food program and educational gardens will be available, as well as an evening of free activities and live music and entertainment. Attendees are encouraged to wear orange to bring awareness to ending gun violence.
Upcoming Cap City Nights Festivals are 6pm-10:00pm in the following locations:
June 4 – Linden Community Center (1254 Briarwood Ave., Columbus, OH 43211)
June 11 – William H. Adams Community Center (854 Alton Ave., Columbus, OH 43219)
June 18 – Barnett Community Center (1184 Barnett Rd., Columbus, OH 43227)
June 25 – Glenwood Community Center (1888 Fairmont Ave., Columbus, OH 43223)
July 9 – Barack Community Center (580 Woodrow Ave., Columbus, OH 43207)
July 16 – Beatty Community Center (247 N. Ohio Ave., Columbus, OH 43203)
July 30 – Douglas Community Center (1250 Windsor Ave., Columbus, OH 43211)
August 6 – Driving Park Community Center (1100 Rhoads Ave., Columbus, OH 43206)
To learn more about how you can volunteer with APPS, or share information about the program, visit columbus.gov/recreationandparks.
Naturally Impactful is brought to you by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, which works to enrich and change the lives of our citizens. The column is an effort to share the story of how the pillars of Health and Wellness, Conservation and Social Equity drive the work we do. Each month the column will focus on different sections of the department using these pillars to create a positive impact on our residents’ and visitors’ quality of life along with providing basic knowledge of the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, #CRPD. To find more about upcoming happenings at your Columbus Recreation and Parks, visit their Facebook page, Twitter page, or columbus.gov/recreationandparks.