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Community leaders launch new effort 'for a safe spring break for youth in St. Louis'

"This is a pilot. We are excited about it and so far, it's off to a great start," said Zenique Gardner Perry.

ST. LOUIS — Seventeen-year-old Mercikah Perry had lots of fun checking out the new movie, Shazam at MX Theater in downtown St. Louis Monday night.

For her and more than a dozen other teenagers the free event was a great way to kick off their spring break.

"I think all of this is really helpful and it's beneficial. You know it's something for the youth to do," said the high school senior.

In recent months, teens have either been the victims or suspects in shootings, car break-ins and other violence in St. Louis.

In fact, so far this year more than a dozen kids, 17 years old or younger, have been shot in the city. Four of the victims died.

"I've known a couple of people who got shot. People are dying. It's sad," said Perry.

As part of the "Stop, Lock, Drop It, Cancel Gun Violence Campaign" created last year, the Violence Prevention Commission, Mental Health Board of St. Louis, Mayor Tishaura Jones and others have teamed up to offer youth positive activities to participate in while they're on spring break this week.

"Out of school time is a really big time when we see violence peak in the community," said Zenique Gardner Perry, who's with the St. Louis Violence Prevention Commission.

The groups are providing children and young adults, from 12 to 25 years old, with free movie nights, skate parties, boat rides and more.

"I'm excited and it's a great run. It's a great pilot because we wanted to see really what could happen during the spring to prepare for what we do in the summertime. We're hopeful that young people will see there are other things to do," said Gardner Perry.

"I just think it's a great idea," said Mercikah Perry.

More than 100 kids have signed up to see the new movie, "Creed 3" at MX Theater on Washington Avenue on Tuesday night. The event is sold out.

For a look at the complete list of free, Spring Break Activities just go to "stlareavpc.org."

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