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Out to the ballgame: 2K Milwaukee kids take in Brewers game as part of Safer City MKE initiative

Program aimed at keeping kids off the street in the summer months

Kids with summer programs across Milwaukee took in a Milwaukee Brewers game on Augist 9, 2023. Evan Casey/WPR

Thirteen-year-old Bryson Robinson had never attended a Milwaukee Brewers game. But on Wednesday, that changed.

“Compared to just sitting at home, it’s better — way better,” Bryson said.

Bryson was one of about 2,000 kids in Milwaukee who were able to watch the Milwaukee Brewers take on the Colorado Rockies for free, through the Safer City MKE initiative. The initiative is part of an effort to help keep kids off the streets during the summer months, a time when violence often increases in Milwaukee.

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Bryson went to the game with other kids from the Neighborhood House of Milwaukee, a community center on the city’s north side.

“I’m feeling like this is a good opportunity for me to even be here right now,” he said. “It’s great.”

Danielle Carter, 13, was also at her first Milwaukee Brewers game. If she wasn’t there, she said she’d likely be sitting in her room at home.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson meets with kids at the Neighborhood House of Milwaukee. Evan Casey/WPR

“I would start to think, and usually when I’m in my room, I don’t think about stuff that’s helpful,” she said. “So to be out here is really nice.”

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson hosted the event as the first ever “Play Ball” game under the initiative. The Milwaukee Brewers Foundation helped pay for the tickets.

Johnson grew up in the city, and was involved with the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee as a child.

“I know that when kids have opportunities outside of their neighborhoods, and they get exposure to other things, it opens up their world to a whole different set of opportunities,” Johnson said. “It expands their horizons.”

In May, Milwaukee leaders urged the city’s youth to participate in several programs and events during the summer as a way to stay safe. Even so, in the last few weeks several children have been shot in Milwaukee, leading community leaders to call for an end to violence.

Johnson said he believes events and programs like this can help kids feel a sense of belonging.

“It just goes to show that when kids have opportunities to do things like this, they’re less likely to participate in those bad things that we’ve seen happen throughout the city,” Johnson said.

Youth in Milwaukee got to spend a day at American Family Field as part of the Safer City MKE initiative. Evan Casey/WPR

Norm McGee, the program director at Neighborhood House of Milwaukee, said he was excited about the event.

“There are some kids that have never been to a game before. And the Brewers are actually in first place right now, and they’re playing well, so it’s just nice to see a packed stadium in the middle of the day with our kids being able to cheer on the Milwaukee Brewers,” he said.

Kids at the Neighborhood House of Milwaukee have gone to Mount Olympus in Wisconsin Dells and participated in several other events this summer. For McGee, the game was another opportunity for Milwaukee’s children.

“You never know when a young person sees a professional that’s doing something that it may strike an interest,” he said.

Thankfully, not only did Bryson see his first Brewers game Wednesday — he also saw his first Brewers win.

“I love to see the Brewers score,” he said.