Celebrating expansion of Kids Safe Zone

Posted at 5:52 PM, Jan 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-07 06:35:17-05
It has been seven months of being a safe place and much more for hundreds of kids in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. 
Now what has become like a second home for so many has room to grow.
"It gives him better opportunity, more opportunities to do more stuff, " Melanie Hall, a mother and volunteer at the Penn North Kids Safe Zone, said. 
Hall has been bringing her son Horatio to the Safe Zone since it opened on June 1, 2015. It opened after the uprising following Freddie Gray's death. The director, Ericka Alston, said they outgrew the space in 30 days. 
"It was very important for us to stay in place. Not just in Sandtown-Winchester, but where we are. ... We've partnered with a for profit day care provider who worked with us to relocate her space and allow us to move in. Perfect! We are right next door. We're not moving anywhere," Alston told ABC2. 
Alston said they needed $80,000 to make that happen. They made it to $40,000 with donations from A&E, and Kaiser Permanente. The Governor's Office for Children sealed the deal. 

Lt.. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said he and Gov. Larry Hogan never forgot about witnessing for themselves how much people care about this community.
"I had a lot of talking points and I haven't touched any of them. I just wanted to be able to say we really appreciate what's going on here. We appreciate what you're doing," Rutherford said. 
The kids could not wait to get inside for a tour. What they found as they move from a space with 1,000 square feet to a space with more than 5,000 square feet, is a fully renovated building with seven classrooms.
"We now have the room for a therapist to come and provide services. We have room for the yoga and the holistic things we're going to offer to them. So it allows us to be a real robust program with the services that these wonderful children need," Alston said. 
In addition to the $40,000 to move into the new space, the Governor's Office for Children gave $10,000 for new computers. 
An additional $10,000 is also coming from the Department of Human Resources. 
The Kids Safe Zone will be officially moved by Monday Feb. 8. 

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