Statement on the Roxborough High School shooting 

Like many of you, the disturbing news of Tuesday’s shooting outside of Roxborough High School has left us shaken and deeply concerned for the children and the communities we serve. First and foremost, our thoughts are with all of the students, families and school communities impacted by this terrible tragedy.  

But they deserve more than our thoughts – they deserve our action.

The crisis of gun violence is destroying the lives of young people, devastating families, terrorizing entire communities, and threatening the future of our School District and our city.  

While many will be quick to scapegoat “dangerous youth”, the causes of this heinous incident are far more complex and so will the solutions need to be. 

Children should not be able to get their hands on a gun, nor should children live in fear of their life being ended by one. Children should not think that violence is their only course of action. They need mentors, positive peer groups and other supports that can help them thrive.

ASAP stands in solidarity with our out-of-school time colleagues from the Greater Philadelphia Extracurricular Collaborative (known as GPEC) who spoke out today in the Philadelphia Inquirer about how after school programs need to be a part of the solution. Philadelphia students are in a state of crisis, and after school programs can be used to intervene to support the development, health and safety of our city’s children. 

For those who have not felt implicated in this crisis, the harrowing specifics of this particular shooting should be a wake-up call. These kids were just being kids. After school sports are a vital outlet for children and an integral part of communities everywhere. We cannot let our inaction deprive young people of these critically important experiences.  

This much should be clear: we ALL have a stake in the future of our children and ending this crisis requires ALL of us to do more. Grassroots advocacy, legislative action, community organizing, public-private partnerships – ending this crisis demands immediate action on all fronts. But it will also require our sustained focus and investment. 

Since ASAP’s beginning 20 years ago, our mission has been to provide children with safe spaces during the hours of 3-6pm – long-known to be the most dangerous time of day for young people. Last year, we sharpened our focus on providing more opportunities in the neighborhoods most affected by violent crime. Nearly half of our total programming for the year (122 out of 273 clubs) took place in the 14 zip codes identified by the City’s Office of the Controller as having the highest rates of gun violence. 

We plan to double-down on that strategy this year and establish dozens of new programs in neighborhood public schools operating in communities most impacted by the gun violence epidemic. We will create spaces outside of school where like-minded kids from across the city can come together to explore interests, develop skills and build friendships under the guidance of caring adults. And we will work closely with our school and community leaders, city officials, and peer organizations to tackle this crisis so that we can be more than the sum of our parts and meet this moment for our children and families.  

We commend all the organizations and individuals who have already stepped forward to lead these efforts and we welcome any and all who want to join us in this crucial work. 

Sincerely, 

Justin Ennis, Executive Director 

ASAP/After School Activities Partnerships