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Advocates hope Boys and Girls Club will give Roll Hill kids a safe place to play

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Posted at 6:58 PM, Sep 20, 2021

Te’airea Powell is familiar with the cycle after the cycle — what happens when people are shot in East Westwood, where she lives, and what happens after.

“When a shooting happens, everyone is in an uproar,” said Powell, a City Council candidate and trustee of the East Westwood Improvement Association. “And then people just fall off. It’s almost a notion that people don’t really care.”

Two young boys, ages 6 and 8, were shot in nearby Roll Hill in June. Their stories no longer dominate the news cycle. But Powell hasn’t forgotten, and she’s hopeful she’s found something that can help.

She and other community leaders hope they’ll be able to use $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan funds to build a new Boys and Girls Club in Roll Hill, giving children in the neighborhood a safe place to spend their time outside of school.

“I definitely think it can make a difference in the future,” she said.

City Council member Liz Keating does, too.

“This is going to change lives,” Keating said.

The $2.5 million they hope to use is excess from a fund originally meant to support the Duke Energy Convention Center. They’ll get a $750,000 boost from money already laid aside for the Boys and Girls Club in 2017.

“This is just a dream come true,” said Bill Bresser, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati. “There are no resources up there for kids. There’s no anything. … Our goal is just to give opportunity after opportunity to build into kids and create self-sufficient adults.”

City staff are on board with the plan, although they noted they’ll have to double-check whether the club is an approved use of city ARP funds. The law department currently believes it qualifies because it addresses the health and education of children.

Advocates such as Powell want an ordinance in front of City Council by next week at the latest.

“Kids need a safe space,” she said. “A lot of times, kids aren’t able to be kids at home. At the safe spaces that they have, they’re able to just let everything go and actually be a kid.”