|Posted by brojohn47 on August 8, 2015 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer for the Weekly Challenger
ST. PETERSBURG — What could be a better way to wind down an unusually hot and stormy summer in Florida than to watch a family movie, splash around in the pool and snack and chat with the community at the Childs Park pool? The fun took place last Fri., Aug. 7 from 7:30-10:30 p.m.
John Muhammad, president of the Childs Park Neighborhood Association, teamed up with Mike Jeffries, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of St. Petersburg, to make the event happen not only just for the immediate community but for St. Petersburg as a whole.
Children and adults of all ages dipped and dove in the two large pools to cool down from the 90 plus degree heat during the day.
“We invited the community out to enjoy a recent movie while swimming and enjoying the fellowship and time together with friends and family,” said Jeffries.
“The children had a blast and we had a wonderful discussion about ways to improve and strengthen our community,” said Muhammad, summarizing the night’s events on Facebook.
As the movie “Frozen” was just about to get underway, Jeffries commended Muhammad on his contributions for putting “the neighbor back in the hood” in the Childs Park area.
The atmosphere of fellowship gave Muhammad an opportunity to also meet with concerned citizens who had lodged complaints about local merchants always willing to take the money of community citizens but not being “respectful and willing to give support back to the community.”
“A lot of businesses in our community prosper but they prosper without giving and supporting the community,” said Muhammad. “I get a lot of complaints about businesses in the area and one of the number one complaints is the way they treat people, the way they handle people. They take your money, look at you mean, talk to you crazy and just disrespect you.”
Muhammad also said that several young women were being harassed to perform sexual favors if they wanted more hours or wanted to keep their job. He said that the allegations of sexual misconduct were currently under further investigation.
As the movie started kicking into high gear and the kids jumped off multiple diving boards, Muhammad emphasized the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. and the honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan:
“We’re letting people know that you have options and we do not have to submit ourselves to this kind of treatment. So we are working to organize our demands and things that we want that we will be presenting to business owners in the community. And then if they’re unwilling to meet those demands, we will be withdrawing our economic support of their businesses.”
Over 70 residents came out to the first Flick and Float event at Childs Park and talks of another one for the community is in the works just before the summer ends for kids and they return to school. Further dialogue on taking control and embracing the community economics will also continue.
|Posted by brojohn47 on October 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM||comments (0)|
BY JOYCE NANETTE JOHNSON, Staff Writer- The Weekly Challenger
ST. PETERSBURG — The mission of The Gathering of Women Flower Girls is to create a positive outreach program for girls that address their current issues and concerns but include old fashion values and etiquette that their mothers and grandmothers were taught.
The Flower Girls, a workshop under the umbrella of the Gathering of Women organization, was launched Sat., Oct. 25 at Childs Park YMCA.
Today’s young ladies are assaulted daily by questioning their own self-worth, filled with doubt and are exposed to harmful, negative images both outside and sometimes even in their own homes. Grace, elegance and manners seem to be reminiscent of a time long ago but still fondly remembered and wished for.
The Gathering of Women Flower Girls’ message states that they “will be engaged in etiquette, community involvement, health, merit, praise dancing, the arts and sisterhood. They will explore and share their hopes and dreams through creative projects, journaling, group presentations and team building exercises.”
The workshops will cover six major components:
The Arts: Singing, drama/acting will be offered for building characterization.
Etiquette: Teaching young girls the fundamentals of social skills and etiquette.
Creative movement/ Music: Introduction of various genres of music, ballet, tap, theatre dance, hip-hop, rock, jazz and gospel.
Community involvement: They will be involved in a project that addresses a community problem they believe is important to change.
Sports: Physical Fitness, stronger bodies for stronger minds
Building relationships: Appreciating people different from them, trusting the reasons behind what other people do.
The Flower Girls were named in honor of Rene Flowers, a community leader, activist, former city councilmember and now the newly re-elected Pinellas County School Board member of District 7.
“I named the program after Rene because she represents leadership and education and has a voice in setting the direction for our schools,” said Samantha Richardson, chair of the Gathering of Women. “Learning and achievement for all students is her primary focus. These are education key factors that we want our Flower Girls to be involved in.”
Flowers said she was elated when she was informed that a program was being named in her honor. “This will be a legacy to me,” she stated.
She feels that today’s young girls are faced with different challenges than she and her contemporaries were. “My mom was my elder woman and stateswoman,” she explained. “She was my mother she was not my friend. That would come later when I had become a woman.”
Her mother, the late Juanita Robinson, was the former assistant deputy director of Head Start and Flowers explained she always instilled in them to remain in character, dress appropriately and to not always speak what was on your mind but to listen first.
Flowers hopes the Flower Girls will always learn to respect themselves, to be proud of their black heritage, to be confident that whatever they decide to do they can do it; to set goals, partner with people and stay on point. Most importantly she wants them to learn from their mistakes and then move forward.
At the sign-in and first general meeting, girls aged 5-13 accompanied by a parent, checked in. The room was filled with excited giggles, toothy grins and a few faces showed hesitant shyness not sure of what to expect.
Patrice Davis brought her daughters Sa’Qoia and Andriana Middlebrooks to the kickoff.
“As a young girl my mother influenced me to be in Precious Jewels and I loved and enjoyed it,” Davis said. “My daughters are like sponges and I want them to learn etiquette and respect. I want them to stand on their own feet and know the importance of being a woman.”
Participants of the Gathering of Women Flower Girls: Kennedy Dade, Jasmine Edmonds, Jada Edmonds, Sa’Qoia Middlebrooks, Adrianna Middlebrooks, Johnnay Williams, Bianna Bynum, Quincy Butler, Bran’dreshia West and Mariah Evans.
The Flower Girls will meet on a bi-weekly basis on Saturdays from 9-11 a.m. The 2014-15 program will be six months from October 2014 – March 2015, with a finale Flower Girl introduction to family and society ceremony. The summer/second session will begin in May.
|Posted by brojohn47 on October 21, 2014 at 10:00 PM||comments (0)|
Dr. Christopher Warren (L) Modertated the Forum and Bro John Muhammad (R) President of the Childs Park Neighborhood Association hosted the event
BY HOLLY KESTENIS, Staff Writer - The Weekly Challenger
ST. PETERSBURG – Amendment 2 is making waves throughout Florida and right here in St. Pete the conversation has gotten a little heated. The community gathered at the Childs Park Recreation Center, located at 4301 13th Ave. S., hoping to get some information on the new proposal to make medical marijuana legal, but not everyone on the panel saw eye-to-eye.
The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, otherwise known as Amendment 2, is set to be voted on next week. Placed on the ballot as a constitutional amendment with voter approval, Amendment 2 would legalize marijuana for medical purposes. However, opponents of legalization argue the amendment is too loosely written and will cause more harm than good.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, community activist Kurt Donley and Eckerd College Assistant Professor of Biology, Dr. Greg Gerdeman, all took part in an expert panel to help guide voters to making the right decision come poll time.
“If someone is truly at the end of life I don’t want to see anybody suffer,” said Gualtieri. “But this amendment is not about that.”
Gualtieri argued that language of the constitutional amendment is too broad and holds loopholes that will make it easier for drug dealers, addicts, and thrill seeking teens to get their hands on the illegal stash. “What this amendment does is legalize the smoking of marijuana.”
The panel agreed that there is a legitimate medicinal value with marijuana, but as the sheriff pointed out, there is already THC drugs, like the drug Marinol, out on the market that doctors can prescribe to help ease pain and suffering among terminal patients.
So why legalize pot when there is already something out there to help? Proponents of Amendment 2 have a lot to say on that.
Gerdeman knows all about the drug Marinol citing its use since the 80s to cure nausea. But according to the professor, the drug can be too much for some to handle and the cost can be astronomical.
“It’s the caviar of medicine,” he said. But the high price tag and in Gerdeman’s opinion, lack of therapeutic effect, make a cheaper and more tolerable alternative attractive to the general public in need of a painkiller.
Gualtieri didn’t falter in his argument about the repercussions that would be felt if Amendment 2 passed as is. With more officers involved in the policing of the “pot shops” that some experts say will line streets, possibly right next door to you, other areas of police work may take a backseat.
Instead of keeping neighborhoods safe, law enforcement feel they will be inundated with marijuana related offenses from those looking to score some for a good time, to rogue doctors prescribing unlimited cannabis to anyone willing to pay 75 bucks.
“Look what we just went through in the pill mills,” said Gualtieri describing the doctors who disregarded regulations that demanded patient histories and physicals be completed before prescribing pain meds. “You showed up, paid and went out and got as many pills as you could.”
But resident Walter Evans has confidence in law enforcement’s ability to reign it all in, placing Gualtieri on the spot when he brought attention to the fact that lines at pill mills no longer exist and there has been no talk of any overdoses. “If you can control the doctors and how they dispense the hard pain killers, why can’t we do the same for marijuana,” he asked.
Gualtieri it seemed was outnumbered by those in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, the sheriff’s attempts at explaining the potential pitfalls, such as the State Department of Health’s inability to institute sufficient controls in managing the distribution of the drug within the time allotted under the amendment, falling on deaf ears.
Panel participants Donley and Gerdeman support Amendment 2 and are more laid back with its broad language. While Donley who suffered a stroke some five years ago can’t sing the praises of pot loud enough, Gerdeman feels any debate over phrasing can be ironed out in the aftermath.
“I think this absolutely will be regulated,” he said. Gerdeman believes setting up a database registry of clinicians that subscribe will be top priority if it passes and enforcement of those not complying will go smoothly.
A question regarding public safety if marijuana was made legal whether for medicinal purposes or the general public was posed to the sheriff as well. “What harm is legalizing actually going to have?” a community member asked.
Gualtieri listed his reasons. One of which concerns the amendment’s reference to medical use of marijuana being granted to anyone perceived by a doctor to have a debilitating condition. Gualtieri argued the language means any type of doctor, such as a chiropractor could okay a trip to the pot shop.
Instead, Gualtieri would prefer a medical marijuana amendment focused on specific medical uses instead of the amendment’s references to debilitating conditions in general language, which he equates to recreational use.
By the end of the evening though it seemed the panel was spinning its wheels, unable to agree on anything concerning the amendment, while community members weighed internally what the passing of Amendment 2 will mean for their families. One resident spoke out about patients in Pinellas being arrested for treating medical conditions with cannabis, asking how law enforcement arresting patients benefits anyone.
Gualtieri tried to squelch that concern with a definite denial that anyone on their deathbed is being arrested.
But Donley quickly jumped on the Sherriff’s response inciting race into the issue of legalizing medical marijuana. “It’s the last of the Jim Crowe laws to arrest blacks,” he said.
With recent reports comparing black arrests for marijuana as being five times more likely than arrests on whites, it’s no doubt some community members are wondering if legalizing the plant isn’t better for minorities.
Gualtieri shifted the focus back to the initial question, explaining the debate of course isn’t with the dying, but with those using marijuana to treat other conditions like anxiety, menstrual cramps, or minor back pain. While he worries pot will be too easy for scammers, frauds and virtually anyone wanting to acquire it, he also wants to limit the potential issues with addiction that may crop up with those looking to score dope to deal with minor pain.
“One of the crux problems we have is addiction; we have an addictive society,” said the sheriff who witnesses the community’s inability to use alcohol and other legal drugs such as prescriptions in a responsible way each day. “Why are we going to throw something else on the table that is going to be susceptible to abuse?”
But his arguments seemed to be lost on those in attendance, at least those asking the questions. The next question being, “What danger does it pose to the actual community?”
“No different than any of the other drugs that are out there,” said Gualtieri.
The last day to vote yes or no on Amendment 2 is Election Day, November 4.
To reach Holly Kestenis, email [email protected]
|Posted by brojohn47 on April 10, 2014 at 4:40 PM||comments (0)|
Reposted from TheWeeklyChallenger.com article date March 27, 2014
It was a festive afternoon at the Childs Park YMCA on Mar. 19 as the city of St. Petersburg officially opened a satellite office at the facility, located at 691 43rd St. S. Mayor Rick Kriseman, on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony, stated the city is pleased to partner with Childs Park in creating a mayor’s office at the YMCA.
“We’re going to foster opportunities and increase economic prosperity,” Kriseman said. “We want to nurture families and neighborhoods and foster opportunities for all. We want to promote the arts and culture—that’s important that we have arts and culture in all areas of the city, not just downtown.”
Deborah Figgs-Sanders, executive director of the Childs Park YMCA, said she was excited about the “opportunity and the possibility and the partnership with the city of St. Petersburg.”
David Jezek, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg, added that the official opening was a great opportunity to celebrate another chapter in the Childs Park YMCA.
“In 2007 our board of directors made a decision to have a presence in Childs Park,” Jezek explained. “We broke ground, and in September of ‘08 we opened a beautiful 15,000 square foot facility.”
Jezek noted that it’s the only YMCA in the country that contains a branch of the local public library, and pointed out that there is a computer lab with a volunteer income tax program, an arts program that addresses children at risk, and an after school academic achievement program.
“We’re making a difference in the children’s academic life and working with the families,” Jezek affirmed, and lauded the branch’s other offerings like the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Christmas program and the Early Learning coalition, for parents seeking assistance with Child Care Scholarships.
“Over 400 families come through here each month for that program,” he stated. Mayor Kriseman noted that the community has a chance to revitalize the neighborhood and recommit itself to the small businesses, adding that the city doesn’t want these businesses just to survive but to prosper.
“It’s going to take a real community coming together for us to be successful,” Kriseman said. “I believe we have a tremendous opportunity to address the inequity that exists in our city, to lift up parts of south St. Petersburg in a sustainable manner by investing in people, not just things. And that’s why we are proudly bringing city hall to you here.”
To reach Frank Drouzas, email [email protected]
|Posted by brojohn47 on January 30, 2014 at 10:30 PM||comments (0)|
We would like to sincerely thank you for all of your help and support in 2013. You should be proud to know that your Neighbors are very active and working well together. Because of your help and support last year were able to:
Complete our first Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Project and help obtain equipment for unemployed men in the community to find light lawn care and maintenance jobs
Complete Two successful “Adopt –A Block” Neighborhood Clean ups and collect tons of curbside waste and old furniture from residents and that which had been left in Neighborhood alley ways
Participate in Carefest 2013 with over a dozen Youth and Adult volunteers to help mow the lawns of some of Elders and clear the Right of Way of trash and debris.
Provide Anti-Bullying and Self Defense workshops that showed Youth and Adults how to avoid and resolve conflicts.
Help reduce the number of Violent Crimes and Auto Thefts in the Neighborhood by engaging Residents and hosting Stop The Violence Rallies in the Park.
Host an historic Mayoral Candidate Forum to help engage residents and stakeholders.
Increase voter turnout in our precinct and city wide through our “Get Out the Vote” initiative.
Help to Improve Police and Community relations by hosting workshops that provided “10 Simple Rules for Dealing with Police”
Work with the NAACP and held a press conference and meetings with the Mayor and Chief of Police regarding reports of police misconduct in the Neighborhood.
Educate residents on how to properly file complaints on police officers that speed through the Neighborhood without cause which resulted in 2 officers being suspended and one being fired for doing so.
Participate in a series of “Man Camps” facilitated by Men of the Community and provide workshops for boys and young Men Ages 9 to 24 on Peer Pressure, STD’s and How to Dress For Success. This discussed why “sagging” is not cool, taught them how to tie a neck tie and many other things. Dress suits were also given to some of the attendees as well.
Dedicate a New Baseball Field at the Childs Park Recreation Center and form a committee to establish inner league baseball teams
Break ground on the Childs Park Liner Park (on 43rd Street and 11th Ave) to beautify the Childs Park Lake and make it usable to the community for leisure activities.