Parents in St. Petersburg band together to keep kids out of trouble this summer

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With school out and summer beginning for thousands of children, community members in St. Petersburg want to make sure children stay out of trouble, and so they took to the streets to share a message.

Parents, community leaders, teens went door to door for one purpose in Fruitland Heights Friday night, canvassing as part of the Not My son Campaign to get children involved in productive activities and not get caught up in crime.

It was an environment Jaquez McCray escaped.

“The neighborhood I lived in, they did a lot of bad things. I was kind of a part of that because I didn’t know what to do,” said Jaquez McCray, a Lakewood High School junior.

And if not for community members who steered him away from that path, the teen said his life would be different.

“I would probably be on the block or I would probably be in jail. I would probably be in the hospital. I would have got shot,” said McCray.

Jaquez walked Friday hoping to make a difference. Groups asked neighbors to take a pledge, that is for both parents and children, to be positive forces in their neighborhood.

“Instead of being involved in activities that will harm in the streets, they find a safe place where they can come and connect and be involved,” said Father Stephan Brown, SVD of St. Joseph Catholic Church, who hosted Friday’s canvassing event.

Ways to get involved include volunteering for community events, attending summer camps or other neighborhood activities for children or getting summer jobs for teens that develop work ethic.

“As simple as the job might be, they have to learn to be on time, they learn how to be prepared for work,” said Brown.

Jaquez starts his summer job Monday, giving him the chance to not be a son caught up in a vicious cycle.

“Me getting this job, I will be able to have money. I will be able to provide not only for myself but for my siblings too,” said McCray.

For more information about the Not My Son campaign, go to