WASHINGTON (DC News Now)—Pools and splash pads are officially open for the summer in Washington, DC.

“It was very cold the first time I got in,” said 9-year-old Grayson Holmes, who went swimming at Randall Pool on Friday. “It makes me feel like I’m free.”

This afternoon, Mayor Muriel Bowser, along with other local officials, families, and children celebrated the summer season with the annual ‘Jump In’ event.

“Today, we’re kicking off right there at the Randall Pool. And we’re excited that we’re starting the summer as well with our camp slots,” said Browser.

Although a place to cool off, the pool and other recreation facilities serve a bigger role than just that in the community.

“Our kids don’t have a safe haven. If it’s not outside on the block, or at home playing video games,” said Neil McDonald, with the nonprofit group Good Projects. “So, we use this space just to get away from the violence, just the life stresses they have on the daily.”

McDonald said Good Projects is currently hosting a summer camp for about 60 kids who are ages five to 13. The group attended the Jump In event.

“It’s much needed,” he said, speaking about the pool. “The kids can just be kids and that’s the number one thing we want our kids to understand throughout the summer.”

So far this year, 43 juveniles have been shot in the District. That’s according to data from the Metropolitan Police Department. And with summer set to begin—a time when gun violence typically ticks up—officials believe recreation centers play a role in providing safe spaces for families.

“Summer break is nothing new. It is something we ramp up for all year and making sure we have enriching activities for our young people and for our families,” said Bowser.

This year Bowser said her administration invested $17 million into the Rec for All initiative, which expanded camp opportunities and programming for kids, among other things.

“We have doubled the number of camp slots available across our city to 13,000 opportunities,” said the Mayor. “We continue to make investments in the buildings, but also in the lighting and security around each of them.”

“There needs to be a lot more rec centers, a lot more outlets, a lot more places they can express themselves and or be safe,” said mother Lonnice Pringle.

Pringle supports the added investment but would like to see even more done to keep kids safe.

“I see on the news so many young babies dying in car accidents, drive-by (shootings), everything. It’s so important to keep our young people safe,” she said.