OAKLAND — South lakefront aldermen are teaming up to bolster the programs they know work to combat violence in their neighborhoods.
Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and Ald. Sophia King (4th) announced Tuesday at Mandrake Park the $700,000 Building Community Block by Block program to stitch together all of the resources in both wards needed for a safer summer for kids.
“People always say it takes a village [to raise a child],” Dowell said. “But when you look around today, you see that quote put into action.”
Dowell said she and King have spent the last two months raising private donations to expand Safe Passage over the summer months, and create job opportunities for youth and anti-violence training programs in ward parks.
Safe Passage puts volunteers on the streets around schools most of the year to make sure kids can walk around their neighborhoods safely. The new program will keep those volunteers on over the summer and have them stationed around parks in both wards.
Dowell said she has picked out four parks for her ward and made sure to include Fuller Park.
“Fuller sits in the middle of two major gangs’ territory,” Dowell said. “The Safe Passage workers will make sure these kids can navigate through our community.”
Other efforts include American Enterprise 3 hiring and training young men in the neighborhood in carpentry and then putting them to work on renovations to the auditorium at Hendricks Elementary Community Academy, 4316 S. Princeton Ave.
King said it’s about taking a “holistic” approach to issues of violence, and both aldermen said it was more about identifying the things in the community that are known to work and making sure those components are all stitched together.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the aldermen’s idea will be expanded to other areas of the city if it proves a success in Bronzeville.
“Our kids deserve their childhood; they’re growing up way too early and way too hardened,” Emanuel said.
The program will also involve creating more block clubs and hosting block parties and things to keep neighbors out and active on their blocks during the summer.