WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — As we continue to see kids involved in crime in D.C., many are strategizing how to keep them occupied and away from bad decisions. One of the biggest tools is recreation centers across the district.

One of the big concerns many parents have is that there isn’t enough to attract kids, especially older teens, to these rec centers. That’s why there’s now a focus on areas like e-gaming lounges for kids to enjoy.

“The question is how do we engage young people who won’t step foot in here, who may already be justice-involved, who may already be carrying guns?” said Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Marcus Coates, chief of community programs with DC Parks and Recreation, said they’re working on that.

“We have our roving leaders that are in the schools, and they talk to them about what’s going on and they refer them to our recreation centers where they can engage in programming,” Coates said.

Many are already involved in sports at rec centers, but some may not be interested.

“However, they do have the technical skills, they do have the mental capacity to build to strategize, and that’s where gaming comes into play,” Coates said.

Computer labs at Deanwood, Turkey Thicket and Raymond recreation centers are now gaming lounges, a place to socialize and compete. This year three more rec centers will get lounges and next fiscal year another three will get them.

“While we have these gaming spaces that allow them to play, we do have an enrichment component where we actually talk to the kids and figure out what it is they have going on,” Coates said. “And we’re able to kind of resolve some of the issues.”

Some parents said they are afraid to send their kids to some programs however because of who lingers around them.

“We are looking into ways that we can get kids to and from the recreation center safely. And that’s through communication with the parents as well,” Coates said. “So not only not only do we have communication with the kids, we have communication with the parents, so when the kids are getting out, we communicate.”

Coates said their “Late Night Hype” program will be coming back in February to keep kids busy at night.

“We’re looking to expand our operations for all rec centers and aquatic centers, as well. So we’ll be opening up early and closing later,” Coates said.

Coates said all locations will soon be back to being open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.