SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The City of Sacramento is helping host free pop-up events across town to keep kids from getting into trouble at the mall. The events come after the two brawls at the Arden Fair Mall.
Adezha Henry is grateful for spots like the Roberts Family Center. She says the center helps keep kids, including herself, off the streets.READ MORE: As California's Eviction Ban Ends, Some Protections Remain
“We have gangs violence, all of that, and I feel like the positive impact is realizing there’s more than that and having someone who’s willing to show you there’s more than that,” Henry said.
Those positive role models entered Henry’s life at the age of seven. That’s when she began coming to the center. Ten years later, she’s an intern, helping keep her peers out of trouble.
Founder Derrell Roberts says the recipe is simple, “Love, nourishment, food, fun are key ingredients to that environment.”
He also believes he’s got the key ingredient to solving the latest unrest at the Arden Fair Mall.
“There are 14 sites citywide where people can go to, in their neighborhoods, where activists are occurring,” Roberts said.
Roberts worked with Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Arden Fair Mall management to launch free pop up events.
From dining to dancing, 13 events were held Friday across Sacramento. Three more are scheduled for this weekend.
All are sponsored by the Sierra Health Foundation after hundreds of teenage kids on break from school broke out into brawls at the mall, forcing stores to close early during peak holiday hours.
So why would a troubled teenager attend game night instead of a Friday night at the mall?
“You’re not gonna stop somebody who wants to do foolishness from doing foolishness. You’re not gonna stop somebody who wants to fight from fighting, but what you can do is provide a venue for the vast majority of kids who don’t want to do that,” Roberts said.
Roberts says he’s pushed the city to start the pop-up programs for years, knowing fights at local malls are inevitable with kids out of school for the holidays.
He believes with Measure U sales tax funding now in place, more teens will continue to benefit from connections in the community.
“You know, like, there’s kids who show up to those kinds of things just to say that they were there but they’re not actually invested into the fighting or anything like that.MORE NEWS: Fair Oaks Woman Killed In Carmichael Car Crash
As for the Arden Fair Mall, a spokesman says security and police staffing are at normal levels Friday night.