|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 September 11, 2014 at 10:10 PM||comments (0)|
NEW SEED LIBRARY - GET YOUR GREEN THUMB ON @ YOUR LIBRARY
St. Petersburg, Fla. - (September 5, 2014) - The St. Petersburg Library System, in partnership with the Childs Park YMCA and the St. Petersburg Garden Club, is launching a new seed library at the Childs Park Community Library. Beginning September 15, 2014, individual and community gardeners can freely access the seed library stock. A limit of one packet of each variety of seeds will be made available to gardeners.
In conjunction with the new seed library, the library system is also offering a series of free educational workshops for novice and seasoned growers. The first in the series is "Preparing Soil for Gardening" presented by Ray Wunderlich on Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. The workshop will be held in Room 4 of the Childs Park YMCA.
The St. Petersburg Library System is committed to community building and presents this program as a part of the library system's 4E Sustainability Initiative, a method to enhance the delivery of resources, services and programs focused on the Economy, Ecology, Equity and Efficiency.
The Childs Park Community Library and Childs Park YMCA are located at 691 43rd St. S. The seed library and educational workshops are free. For more information, call the Childs Park
Community Library: 727 893-7714.
About Your St. Petersburg Library: St. Petersburg's Library System provides library resources to meet the educational, recreational, cultural, intellectual and social needs of its diverse community. It operates seven community libraries, including the Main Library, North Community Library, South Community Library, West Community Library, Johnson Community Library, Mirror Lake Community Library and a micro-library at Childs Park. For more information, visit www.splibraries.org.
ISSUED BY THE CITY OF ST. PETERSBURG
Marketing and Communications
727-893-7465 / [email protected]
Childs Park Neighborhood Association Members are Volunteers Extraordinaire! Even the President of the United States thinks so!
|Posted by brojohn47 on June 11, 2014 at 9:30 PM||comments (0)|
St. Petersburg, FL - On Memorial Day, during a formal luncheon and ceremony, a group of Childs Park Neighborhood Association Menbers were honored with the prestigious Presidential Volunteer Service Award. At the same ceremony, many other wonderful groups and individuals also received awards for their hard work as volunteers in the community.
These dedicated members were presented their awards, which included a a beautifully framed congratulatory letter from the President of the United States, and a special pin: for their work with The Stop the Violence Coalition in St. Pete, FL
The historic Fort Harrison hotel hosted this spectacular event, which was followed by a festive barbeque with amazing entertainment, on the beautiful hotel grounds. The Church of Scientology’s Miss Pat Harney, worked very hard to ensure that all of the good works of so many in our community were acknowledged.
If you would like to be part of the Stop The Violence Coalition or any other Community Projects and initiaitves please CLICK HERE and contact us today! To see photos of the event visit facebook.com/MyChildsPark.
|Posted by brojohn47 on May 18, 2014 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
St. Petersburg, FL - 2nd Annual Family Fun and Fitness Day a Success!!
On Saturday May 17th, 2014 members of the Childs Park Neighborhood and surronding areas of the City enjoyed a full afternoon of Fun that focuesd on Family and Fitness. Residents were joined by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin, as well as the Director of Neighborhood Affairs Mike Dove, Mike Jeffries from Parks & Recreation, along with Staff from Community Service and Transportation Departments. The event was also supported by TASCO and People of Good will from around the City. We even had a visti from Minne Mouse and Donatello of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
The theme of Health and Fitness was chosen because of the fact that thirty years ago, most people led lives that kept them at a healthy weight. Kids walked to and from school every day, ran around at recess, participated in gym class, and played for hours after school before dinner. Meals were home-cooked with reasonable portion sizes and there was always a vegetable on the plate. Eating fast food was rare and snacking between meals was an occasional treat.
Today, children experience a very different lifestyle. Walks to and from school have been replaced by car and bus rides. Gym class and after-school sports have been cut; afternoons are now spent with TV, video games, and the internet. Parents are busier than ever and families eat fewer home-cooked meals. Snacking between meals is now commonplace.
Eight to 18-year old adolescents spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media, including, TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies, and only one-third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity.
Because the Chllds Park Recreation Center is the only city park with a fully equiped indoor fitness center we decided to highlight this and other programs that are offered to the Community that could assit those that would like to make a few lifestyle changes and help our children lead healthier lives–because we already have the tools we need to do it.
Those tools include Zumba Classes at the Childs Park YMCA, Self Defense, Dance, Tennis, Basketball and many other programs available to children and families at the Recreation Center.
To showcase the neighborhood amenities, we started at the Childs Park YMCA to warm up with a Dance Class facilitated by local instructor Bahiyyah Sadiki. We also received information about several Family Service and Youth Academic programs that are available at "The Y" presented by Executive Director Deborah Figgs- Sanders. From there we completed a 1k walk down the Pinellas and Skyway Trail that goes through the newly renovated Childs Park Lake and connnects to the Clam Bayou Trail.
Other activities included sack races, volleyball and football games. The menu included fresh fruit instead of potatoe chips to encourage healthy eating as well.
The Childs Park Neighborhood Association would like to thank everyone that helped make this event a success and we look forward to doing it bigger and better next year!!
|Posted by brojohn47 on April 26, 2014 at 10:15 PM||comments (0)|
The cops had the Rockets right where they wanted them.
Muscles bulging under black sleeveless jerseys, the St. Petersburg police officers on the Green Machine team were dominating in the first half.
Then, a glimmer of hope for the Rockets.
Ja'kevia "Kevie" Muhammad, a 5-foot-3, 17-year-old dynamo from Dixie Hollins High School, snatches a Green Machine pass out of the air. The police give chase and catch her before she can score.
Muhammad jogs to the sideline. Her teammates give her high-fives. One cracks a joke.
"You got to run from the police without any consequences," he says, and members of both teams laugh.
• • •
The police would go on to win the game 26-14, but the scoreboard at Saturday morning's first Gridiron Family Fun Day at the 31st Street Sports Complex told only part of the story.
The event brought together five teams: one each from the St. Petersburg police and fire departments, and three comprised of players ranging from elementary to college age.
Community activist Lisa Wheeler-Brown organized the friendly competition with her late son in mind.
Cabretti Jalil Wheeler, 21, and his friend Kyle Lynn Ellis, 24, were fatally shot at a Lealman warehouse in 2008. One man was convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison, but a second suspect has not been caught.
After the murders, Wheeler-Brown became an outspoken critic of the "no-snitching" culture. She is convinced someone knows something that could crack the case, but the code of silence persists.
Building bonds on the football field, she said, is a way to chip away at that wall between residents and police.
"We just have to keep trying to change the mindset," she said. "My son didn't die in vain."
Wheeler-Brown is right to be hopeful, said police Lt. Paul McWade. Before Saturday, the department's team had twice played the Wildwood Dream Team, made up of south St. Petersburg teens from the city's Teen Arts, Sports and Cultural Opportunities program.
"At first they're a little nervous around us, but once they figure out we're just like they are, they open up and we open up," McWade said.
Since then, McWade and other officers have seen Wildwood Dream Team players in school or on patrol. There's a flash of recognition and usually a bit of boasting from Dream Team members. They beat the police team both times.
Emmanuel "Stew" Stewart, 19, played in both those victories and on Saturday.
"It really does break down barriers," Stewart said. "Coming out here to get to know each other is just a good idea."
But will it help convince people to speak up against their friends and neighbors if they commit a crime?
Maybe, said 17-year-old Dream Team player Cyrus Webster.
"If people stand up, we'll have a better community," he said. "There won't be so much violence and so much trouble, and we won't have to deal with stuff like that."
• • •
The Dream Team and the Green Machine met in Saturday's final game.
Final score: 26 to 7, Dream Team.
The teams slapped hands and then the victors, their bragging rights bolstered, hoisted their trophy.
Detective Brett McKean knows what to expect the next time he encounters his rivals.
"Of course you're going to talk a little trash," McKean said, "but it's all in good fun."
Article written by Tony Marrero and he can be reached at tm[email protected] or (727) 893-8779. Follow him on Twitter @tmarrerotimes.
|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.
|Posted by brojohn47 on April 10, 2013 at 8:05 AM||comments (0)|
Fairmount Park Elementary School has received a large donation from Feeding Children Everywhere.
“Feeding Children Everywhere is a social charity that empowers and mobilizes people to assemble healthy meals for hungry children.” To Learn More Go To: http://www.feedingchildreneverywhere.com/
We are looking for families who are interested in receiving free meal packages. Though we have many boxes full of these packages, the meals are limited and will be given out on a first come first serve basis.
The main components are lentils, rice, a blend of six dehydrated vegetables and pink Himalayan salt.
If you are interested in receiving a free package please contact:
Lisa Marie Lugo
Fairmount Park Elementary School
Community and Volunteer Liaison
Office: 727-893-2132 ext 2006
Email: [email protected]
|Posted by brojohn47 on October 16, 2012 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
St. Petersburg, FL - When the Childs Park Neighborhood launched its "Putting Neighbor Back in The Hood" initiative back in May of 2011, they had no idea that their efforts would lead to them being recognized a little over a year later by the City of St. Petersburg as "Neighborhood of the Year for Civic Engagement."
The project was the result of a general consensus among members of the Association that residents have become more individualistic and focused only on themselves and their immediate families. While this is important, it was agreed that we should not do so at the expense or to the neglect of others. The neighbors talked about how residents had seemingly lost the "old fashioned" values and folkways of looking out for one another, their children and property. Instead, residents seem to have taken an "it's none of my business" approach and in most cases turned a blind eye to some of the problems in the area because they didn't see how it affected them.
The goal of the project was to facilitate events and activities that encourage residents and community stakeholders to get to know each other while discussing common needs of the Neighborhood. They wanted to create an environment that showed neighbors that they care about them and are willing to help in any way they can. They also wanted residents to see how pulling together and being a united community could help reduce crime and improve the quality of life for everyone involved.
In June 2011 residents held a Public Forum with The St. Petersburg Police Department and Officers of the Street Crimes Unity to address resident concerns about police Chases through the Neighborhood. During this forum residents shared their experiences and interaction with Officers and discussed ways they could have been handled better on both sides. Residents walked away from the forum feeling as though their voices had been heard and were optimistic that the department would make the changes required to settle resident concerns.
In July and August 2011 residents continued to meet and discuss ways to make the campaign a success. They also hosted a needs assessment meeting at the Childs Park YMCA that was facilitated by Students of USF to help identify the areas of greatest need in the community. It was agreed that Education, Housing and Development and Health would receive the priority. Another one of the things that was discussed was during these meetings was the fact that residents often have great ideas but seem to have difficulty moving from ideas to action. To help remedy this, the leadership of the Neighborhood Association reached out to the City's Neighborhood Partnership division.
The Association was given the opportunity to work with the City on pilot program that had been successful in other Tampa Bay Area communities. The program was a "Grassroots Leadership Development" training class that would offer training to residents to help increase their planning, team building, organizing and project management skills. The program was sponsored by the City and facilitated by The Jim Walter Partnership Center.
The Grassroots Leadership Program began in 2004 with the “Across the Bay” class. Initially, the program targeted local government and its employees. However, it soon became clear that the real need in the community was providing support to the people who lived in the community, so they could contribute to making a change in their own community, interact with government and solve their community issues.
The Grassroots Leadership classes were held: September 15th, 22nd, 29th & October 5th at the Childs Park Recreation Center. Rather than conducting traditional full-day, Saturday sessions, the program was offered on Thursday evenings and was presented as a “fast-track” to grassroots community development. The class brought together diverse leaders and community members including: the Mayor of St. Pete, a leader in the Pinellas County School System, city commissioners, and dedicated neighborhood residents. A Pinellas County commissioner attended the graduation ceremony. The final project developed from this class was a holiday neighborhood re-union. The re-union was held on December 10th at Childs Park and attracted over 300 residents who were treated to live entertainment and a good meal. Residents were also provided information from vendors around the City about programs and services they may not have been aware of.
In January 2012 the Association used the skills they obtained in the training class to help organize a local "Stop The Violence Coalition" that united residents acrosss neighborhood lines to address the common problem of violence in crime that plague our areas. The coalition is comprised of a diverse group that includes members of other Neighborhood Associations, The Pinellas County Urban League's Crime Prevention Task Force, Community Housing Solutions, Superfriends Ent, The NAACP,The Childs Park Rattlers Youth Organization, a local attorney, in addition to concerned citizens and business owners.
In April 2012 the Association and Stop the Violence Coalition held a Stop The Violence Candlelight Vigil in Childs Park to highlight the magnitude and impact that violent crime has on the entire community. Family members of those that have lost their loved ones addressed over 150 people that were in attendance and shared their testimony. Grief counseling services were made available to the community along with other relevant information to help prevent and deal with the issue of violence and violent crime. A second vigl was held in the Campbell Park Neighborhood In June.
In August 2012 a community forum was held to discuss the progress and development of The Childs Park Neighborhood plaza. The plaza will be the jewel of the neighborhood and will be located at the site of the Childs Park Lake on 43rd Street and 11th Ave South. Several residents came out and shared their thoughts and ideas for the project. As a result of their participation, the project, once completed, will truly reflect the vision on "the people" that live, work and worship in the Childs Park Neighborhood.
Much to their surprise, while discussing plans for the next community event and refining their long term strategy, members of the Association received the news that their efforts to "Put Neighbor Back In The Hood" had earned them an Outstanding Volunteer Achievement Award and on October 9, 2012 they were recognized as Neighborhood of the Year for Civic Engagement.
When asked about the award and recognition,Bro John Muhammad, President of the Association said, "We really appreciate the support we have received from the City of St. Petersburg's Neighborhood Partnership department. We also would like to thank the residents of the Childs Park Neighborhood for responding to our calls, attending meetings when they can and for having faith that if everyone does a little no one has to alot and together we can make a difference. "
When asked about future plans for the group he discussed the development of a Neighborhood Skills Bank that would allow them to organize and pool the human resources and skills of members of the neighborhood so they can begin to have greater participation in the rehabilitation and development of the area. When asked if he had any closing remarks or anything he would to say to the community he replied, "There's more that needs to be done than needs to be said."
For more information about the Neighborhood Association of Childs Park you can visit their website at MyChildsPark.webs.com or email: [email protected]