Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SUMMER NIGHT LIGHTS

Statistics show that young people are most likely to get into trouble between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight. And the risk is increased during the summer, when school is out. The city's Summer Night Lights project one of the our most successful efforts to help keep our kids and our streets safe.

I was proud to be at the Highland Park Recreation Center yesterday to help launch this year's Summer Night Lights and announce that it is expanding from 16 sites to 24 sites citywide, despite these tough times. Last year, this program served 270,000 Los Angeles youth, having a tremendous impact on them and their neighborhoods.

I am in awe of how this program has grown. Just four years ago, after a 16-year-old girl in Glassell Park was tragically shot, I worked with the community to come up with a way to head off a long, hot and violent summer. We developed at the Glassell Park Recreation Center what was called "At the Park After Dark."

We brought in Aztecs Rising to teach boxing. Artstorm offered graffiti art classes. We had a mobile skate van, soccer, swimming, basketball, music and much more. And it worked.

Since then, the program has grown citywide, thanks to an incredible partnership among the city, the community and private philanthropies and businesses, whose support was especially critical in this year's expansion, including to the Lake Street Community Center in my district.

In addition to keeping recreation centers open (with a variety of activities) until midnight, Wednesday to Saturday, gang intervention workers are on hand to settle disputes and keep the peace. The centers are also staffed by 240 "Youth Squad" members, who are themselves at-risk youth aged 17-20. In addition to a stipend and a positive mission for the summer, they receive job and other skills training.


The other new sites this year are at the:

  • Highland Park Recreation Center
  • Normandale Recreation Center