If Milwaukee were not reeling after a weekend of violence and a young man’s death, a peaceful Sunday afternoon soccer game on the city’s south side would have seemed perfectly normal. A group, called Common Ground, gathered at the Kinnickinnic Sports Center too, to push for more recreational opportunities for Milwaukee kids. The group believes the move could help make violent weekends rare.
Common Ground volunteer leader Gabriela Dieguez says in the wake of the weekend tragedy on the city’s north side, she wants the community to spend more money creating recreational spaces for kids citywide.
She adds, it’s time for everyone to come up with solutions.
“I have worked 11 years as a counselor on the south side of Milwaukee and I have noticed that most of the emotion ailments I have seen in my clinic are connected with what’s happening in our neighborhoods and the ailments of our city…. which are things that can be fixed if we work together,” Dieguez says.
Alejandro Garcia and his wife are quietly watching their youngest child play soccer. Garcia says he tries to point the high school senior in the right direction.
“Keep your kids involved in sports – keep an eye on them all the time. And as a parent you have to teach them respect and get them involved in something that’s going to be useful for them in the future, that’s my point of view,” Garcia says.
Yet Garcia says sports alone can’t save our children or our community.
He's lived almost his entire life 10 blocks from this sports field and now feels at risk sitting on his front porch. “I want to feel safe that nothing’s going to happen. I don’t feel that way, no. It’s not safe. It’s terrible, but it’s true,” Garcia says.
Garcia says he prays more people take steps – even small ones – to be part of Milwaukee’s solution.
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