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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Whitehaven High School was turned into a petting zoo Friday evening, with a camel, lemur, kangaroo, and really large snake.

“I ain’t never seen one of these before,” one junior said looking at the kangaroo.

The critters were part of a summer bloc party for kids. The free event, which included rides and food, was an attempt to keep kids out of trouble. Four more will follow in the coming weeks all over town.

Artemis “Peppa” Williams is the program organizer. His goal is to cut down on violence little by little.

“With crime being the way it is in Memphis I wanted to create a breath of fresh air in this city,” he says. “If I can help one child at a time than I’ve done my part.  It gives that parent, that child a sense of hope. They know that someone does care and hasn’t forgotten about them.”

City officials like councilman Martavius Jones support the program.

“You know, we need to have more outlets like this for young people,” he says, “You know, they could be at home getting into mischief right now but this is a healthy event, safe event for the children to participate in… Just to give them some activities, some exposure to things they wouldn’t normally have I think is beneficial for them.”

Parents can also register their kids for school at these events.

If you want to attend one of the bloc parties in the coming weeks a schedule is below. They all run from 5 pm to 7 pm.

  • Aug. 2 – Trezevant High School
  • Aug. 6 – AB Hill Elementary School
  • Aug. 9 – Hamilton K-8 School
  • Aug. 10 – SCS Board of Education