Syracuse community leader Mary Nelson is hoping to create a space for kids to play on Salina Street. Nelson is raising money to turn a vacant lot next to her youth center into a park, complete with basketball hoops and sandboxes for neighborhood kids.
Inside the Mary Nelson Youth Center, dance class is finishing up for a group of three year olds. Once the fun stops here, Nelson worries about the type of community they will walk out into.
" So many kids around here right now just stand around. If this park is put here they will have something to do, somewhere to go ," says Nelson.
To help these children, Nelson is trying to raise 65 thousand dollars in order to build a sports center in the abandoned lot right next to her youth center.
"I t ' s discipline , to me sports is discipline. It controls them . I t takes them away from the streets. They have somewhere to go and have a good time ," says Nelson.
Right now, it's just bottles and cans, but Nelson wants to make it an area where kids can have fun and play and stay away from violence and crime.
Akilah Cage is a mother of two children in Syracuse, she also works with Mary Nelson at her youth center. " This will , ' A ' save live s (and) ' B ' , it will deter the amount of kids that will be hanging on the street s," says Cage.
Every year at her backpack giveaway. Mary Nelson hands out more than 20 thousand backpacks to children throughout Syracuse. She's now asking their parents to give back one dollar to help her pay for this park.
" I don't care if you have five kids , five dollars, each child. That can go a long way ," says Nelson.
Many parents in Syracuse are already starting to get behind the idea of paying her and the community back.
Nzinga Grace is a mother here in Syracuse and was the the youth center for dance class. " A dollar is nothing. You could spend, anything in these days costs a dollar , so to help the community, absolutely," says Grace.
A park which Nelson hopes will be paid for and built by the end of this summer.
She still needs to hear back from the city to see if she can go ahead with this project.
Nelson is holding a fundraiser to start on the road to building this park on Saturday, April 26th at the Mary Nelson Youth Center. The address is 2849 South Salina Street.