By Natasha Brown

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Parks and Recreation Department on Wednesday unveiled its summer plan to offer more programs for young people this year. They’ll be collaborating with the school district, police department and other community groups in hopes of keeping kids safe at a time when it’s most needed.

This year will look very different when it comes to Philadelphia city recreation centers and programs offered to young people. Pools, rec centers, and most programs were shuttered during the height of the pandemic in 2020, but a wave of activities will be reopening, meant to keep kids safe.

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“We know that these types of activities are a lifeline for our kids,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “And we believe that keeping children and youth engaged in dynamic summer experiences will help keep them safe and reduce community violence.”

Gun violence, particularly involving young people, is on the rise throughout the city. Police statistics released during the mayor’s bi-weekly gun violence briefing show shootings and homicide rates continuing to escalate, standing at 159 as of Wednesday afternoon.

Just Tuesday night, as many as seven shootings happened within a two-hour span.

“A lot of our summer programming has been in direct partnership, planning with our police department around the safety needs of kids and all these different activities,” Deputy Mayor Cynthia Figueroa said.

The Parks and Recreation Department is looking to target nearly 32,000 city youth with in-person programs ranging from school district summer school initiatives, recreation center programs, pool openings, Play Streets relaunching and work-ready opportunities.

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“As of this week, we have over 5,000 kids who have registered and have submitted their application for a work exposure opportunity,” Figueroa said.

The Police Athletic League is looking to incorporate programming as well to engage more young people. The police department will also be stepping up patrols surrounding recreation centers in high crime areas.

“As we have in prior years, our department will provide a full complement of officers to patrol and monitor our rec centers during hours of operation,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said. “These measures will include both stationary and roving beats with officers both on foot and on bicycles.”

Police will also be stepping up patrols around pools as well as they reopen for the summer.

The Parks and Recreation Department will also be extending hours at some of its rec centers throughout the summer months.

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For a list of gun violence resources in Philadelphia, click here.