Neighborhood Association of Childs Park


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2015 NBA Championship Trophy makes stops in St. Pete at #MyChildsPark

Posted by brojohn47 on September 20, 2015 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

VIDEO: Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy Public Viewing in St. Petersburg, FL.

The championship trophy awarded to the Golden State Warriors 2015 NBA Championshiop basketball team, including St. Petersburg native and Warriors' center/forward Marreese Speights was on display for public viewing and photos at the Childs Park Recreation and Fitness Center today.

Thanks for all you do Mo. You are a true example of what it means to ‪#‎BelieveAndDoGood‬ while conituing to help us ‪#‎PutNeighborBackInTheHood‬.



Childs Park YMCA Annual Back Pack and School Supply GiveWay

Posted by brojohn47 on August 22, 2015 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

On behalf of myself and the Childs Park Neighborhood Association, I would like to say thank you to Sis Deborah Figgs-Sanders for her outstanding work and service to the community. She is a great friend, mentor and Big Sister to me and I can always count on her.

This video is from the annual Back Pack and School Supply giveaway that she does at the Childs Park YMCA. Sis Deborah, we salute you, your staff and all of the wonderful volunteers that have made this event a huge success year after year. You all continue to provide an excellent example of what we mean when we say we're #‎PuttingNeighborBackInTheHood.



Another great day in the Childs Park Neighborhood.

Posted by brojohn47 on August 20, 2015 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Another great day in the Childs Park Neighborhood. We would like to thank Pastor Brian K. Brown and the Believing Family of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church for hosting their annual "Back to School Bash" at the Childs Park Recreation Center.

We had a great time in the Lord while they gave away school supplies, hundreds of back packs and dozens of free haircuts. This is a wonderful example of what we mean when we say we're #‎PuttingNeighborBackInTheHood.




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15 Million Gallons of Raw Sewage dumped in South St. Pete

Posted by brojohn47 on August 20, 2015 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (0)

15 Million Gallons of Raw Sewage dumped in South St. Pete. The City Council has requested a full investigation into what some members of the Community are calling an act of "Environmental Terrorism."



Childs Park YMCA hosts summer showcase

Posted by brojohn47 on August 13, 2015 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer for The Weekly Challenger

ST. PETERSBURG — Over 260 people packed the Childs Park YMCA (CPY) auditorium to see summer campers “Puttin’ On the Ritz” for their culminating project. The K-8 camp participants experienced cultural as well as educational enrichment during their break from school.

The theme of the showcase was “Celebrate the Positive Summer Camp Experiences Provided to Youth K-8th Grade.” Six, seven and eighth graders under supervision of Regina Cooper from the Harbordale YMCA came to perform alongside the Kindergarteners through fifth graders at CPY under the supervision of Deborah Figgs-Sanders talented staff.

Both groups thrilled the audience with an hour of song, creative dance, step and recital performances.

The dance routines by both groups of youngsters really stirred the crowd. Another highlight was the children’s individually reciting of biographies by famous black intellectuals, such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Maya Angelou.

During the CPY camp, youngsters engage in a variety of activities such as daily devotion, gardening, karate, Girl Scouts, creative dance, Kids Fit, visual arts and line dancing exercise. In addition to enrichment activities, they participated in four to five hours daily of academic study including Summer Care provided by the United Way and weekly Reading Circle provided by the St. Petersburg Library Systems.

At the end of the program, three children representing the CYP showed their appreciation and gratitude to Figgs-Sanders by presenting her with an Edibles Arrangement basket of fruit and a large silver balloon. Figgs-Sanders in turn thanked her staff by calling them up one-by-one and presenting each one with a gift.

CPY features a fully functional state-of-the art computer lab and staffed library. For more information on the variety of services featured at the center, Deborah Figgs-Sanders can be reached at (727) 209-9622.

Flick, Float & community at Childs Park

Posted by brojohn47 on August 8, 2015 at 1:15 PM Comments 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.

NBA champion Marreese Speights back in Childs Park

Posted by brojohn47 on July 2, 2015 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer for the Weekly Challenger

ST. PETERSBURG — As the six o’clock start time approached, the event celebrating world champion Marreese Speights of the Golden State Warriors would have been a sellout had admission been required. Cars lined the streets surrounding Childs Park Recreation Center, the place where it all started for Speights. The standing-room-only crowd showed support and welcomed home St. Petersburg’s latest favorite son.

“It was so incredibly refreshing to see a young man who was born and raised right here in this community come back and speak to the youth,” said Shawn  M. Drouin of the TASCO Teen program, a division of the Parks and Recreation Department with the City of St. Petersburg.

“It’s not too often our youth or community get an opportunity to talk to and get autographs from a NBA champion,” said Drouin. “I had a unique perspective from the stage and I got to see first-hand how mezmorized the audience was.”

Speights grew up playing at Childs Park. He played basketball at St. Petersburg’s Admiral Farragut Academy, which retired his jersey after one year. He also played basketball at Hargrave Military Academy (senior year) and Gibbs High School. He was considered a four-star recruit by, was listed as the number 13 power forward and the number 51 player in the nation in 2006.

Speights began his career at Florida in 2006, and won a national championship with the Gators.  After his sophomore season, he declared himself eligible for the 2008 NBA Draft. He was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 16th pick of the first round in the 2008 NBA Draft.

January 4, 2012, Speights was acquired by the Memphis Grizzlies, and on January 22, 2013, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He then signed with the Golden State Warriors on July 12, 2013. Speights won his first NBA championship with the Warriors after they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in this year’s NBA Finals in six games.

“Marreese is a real life example for our youth of when skills and opportunity are properly applied great things can happen,” said Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, Director of Urban Affairs. “For the community, this is a great example of the power of oneness and collaboration. In less than a week, people came together for a common purpose, which was to bring celebration to our youth and recognize one of our own.”

The event was spearheaded by Community Opportunity for Our People (COOP). COOP was started in 2014 by Tony Macon and Eddie Pelham. Macon had ACT Right; Pelham had Moving Forward With A Purpose. Both programs geared toward helping at-risk youths. Same work. Same language. Same community. The two combined both programs to develop COOP.

“This event brought together a lot of people who cares about our youth and the community. It allowed our young people to dream and see someone out of their neighborhood accomplish something,” said Pelham who complimented Speights’ family.

Drouin’s excitement said it all: “I got to see the pure joy when Marreese got his key to the city. He was smiling from ear to ear. You could call Marreese many things due to his accomplishments on the court, D-1 NCAA champion, NBA first round draft pick, very solid NBA player—but now he must be addressed as NBA Champion! And it started in Childs Park right here in St. Petersburg.”

Childs Park community lab officially opens

Posted by brojohn47 on February 27, 2015 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer for The Weekly Challenger

ST. PETERSBURG — Childs Park Recreation and Fitness Center at 4301 13th Ave. S., was abuzz Feb. 16 as it held a grand opening for its new computer lab. In partnership with City of St. Pete Parks and Recreation, the nonprofit DreamFaith Foundation provided brand new computers to the center as part of its Dream Big Initiative.


In addition, the DreamFaith Foundation has partnered with the citywide program, St. Pete’s Promise, to kick off its new mentoring program at the center. The mentoring program for youngsters grades four through 12 runs Mon. through Fri., from 3:30 to 7 p.m. after school with adult mentors. The computer lab student hours at Childs Park After School Program also runs from 3:30 – 7 p.m.


The festive event included a raffle for such fun giveaways as Sony headphones and mp4 players, as Deonte Thompson, founder and executive director of the DreamFaith Foundation acted as emcee.


“A few years ago we met with then Mayor Foster at the time and we went in with one question: How can we help?” Thompson said to those on hand.


Thompson, a St. Pete native, explained that although the foundation saw the negative statistics that plagued the south St. Pete community at the time like rising school suspensions and an increasing incarceration rate, the DreamFaith board members—which are almost all from South St. Pete—wanted to focus on a way to “build a bridge.”


“The answer that we got back from the mayor at the time was simple: Focus on the youth,” Thompson said. “Focusing on the next generation—grades four all the way up to 12th—to make sure that when they graduate from high school that they’re equipped to handle the world.”


When Thompson and his fellow board members left that meeting, they didn’t have a crystalized plan, but they had a desire and passion to give back to the community. Amidst that passion and determination the Dream Big Initiative was born.


“It’s about empowerment, it’s about hope, it’s about technology,” Thompson said, describing the DBI.


Thompson added that since we now live in a global economy, young career seekers will have to compete against people from all over the world for jobs, namely in the technological fields. Since he believes that science, technology, engineering and mathematics all figure prominently in the jobs of the future, he wanted to provide young people and adults with easy access to computers.


“That’s how the whole computer lab concept came about,” he said.


Access to hope was another key component of the DBI, Thompson said. That’s how the mentoring program came about.


“The goal is for every kid who wants a mentor, they have access to one and they get a mentor,” Thompson declared.


Thomas “Jet” Jackson, who has worked for the city for more than 50 years and recently had a building named after him, offered copious thanks to the foundation for its efforts.


“I want to thank the Dreamfaith Foundation for giving back to the community,” Jackson said. “There is hope and there is help, and you’ve given that help.”


Councilman Wengay Newton recalled some of the rough times he had as a youth growing up in a single-parent household, and encouraged the young people on hand to grasp any opportunities for a bright, productive future and take advantage of available resources.


“We don’t know which one of you guys are going to end up being the next president,” Newton stated, “or the next senator, or the next congressman, or the next mayor, or the next councilman, the next police officer, the next firefighter, the next park and rec manager. No one knows. But we have got to make sure we give you guys every opportunity—not a guarantee, not an entitlement—it’s an opportunity. And opportunities are what you make of them.”


Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, director of Urban Affairs at the city, praised the foundation’s new contribution to Childs Park.


“We are so grateful to you and your vision for stepping up and doing something,” she said. “We want to make sure that we support you as you support these children and these students, and anything that we can continue to do as a community. Let’s wrap ourselves around them!”


Gaskin-Capehart stressed the importance of mentors in young people’s lives and noted the positive impact that professional African-American women had on her when she was growing up.


“I just want you to know that there are opportunities for you and there are people who care about you,” she pointed out, “and just because you don’t have it necessarily in your household doesn’t mean that it’s not out there for you to get.”


Addressing the members of the community at the center directly, Thompson said: “Why are we all here? It is simply because you matter. We are here for you, and we want to be available for you.”


To reach Frank Drouzas, email [email protected]

Bringing computers to Childs Park

Posted by brojohn47 on January 26, 2015 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)


ST. PETERSBURG — The DreamFaith Foundation, a nonprofit organization, has launched its Dream Big Initiative (DBI) to provide mentoring and computers to schoolchildren in St. Pete.

Deonte Thompson, Executive Director

Deonte Thompson, Executive Director

The foundation was started in 2008 with the main purpose of empowering underprivileged kids and adults, said founder and executive director Deonte Thompson. Though he currently resides in Austin, Texas, Thompson is a St. Pete native and a product of Boca Ciega High School and Florida A & M University. For him and his board of directors—about 90 percent of who hail from St. Pete originally—it is a way to give back to their hometown. Thompson grew up on 46th Street and 14th Avenue South in Childs Park, and he admitted it was “pretty bad” when he lived there as a youngster.

“We wanted to figure out a way to show kids that it’s possible to come from the south side of St. Pete and still be successful without being an athlete or without being in the entertainment business,’” Thompson asserted. “There’s nothing wrong with those professions but there are many avenues to success. We wanted to show them different routes and expose them to different things that will empower them to be successful regardless of their situations.”

Through its Dream Big Initiative, DreamFaith is creating a mentoring environment at Childs Park Recreational Center, 4301 13th Ave. S., by joining up with Parks and Recreation and St. Pete’s Promise, a city initiative to provide opportunities for at-risk students.

“We partnered with St. Pete’s Promise, which is the city of St. Pete mentoring program for all of the schools, so it’s basically implementing the foundation of their program at Childs Park Recreation center,” Thompson said, adding that it’s one-on-one mentoring, where mentors and children meet once a week for a period of one year.

As a part of its computer lab revitalization project, the DBI has provided eight new Dell computers along with new office chairs and tables.

“With the children, it’s going to help them with homework assignments, to study, things of that nature,” Thompson said. “With adults it’s going to help them find jobs electronically, to build resumes, so you have two pieces of the Dream Big Initiative—the mentoring program and the computer lab. We believe that those two things coupled together will make a major impact to the community.”

What sets the DBI apart, Thompson said, is that he’s taken many of the life principles he’s learned over the years and has implemented them as “pillars” for his initiative. Some include urging young people to dream big, to not follow the crowd, to take education seriously, to think positive and to control their anger.

“The basics are that you can’t control whether or not it’s going to rain outside,” Thompson mused, “but you can control whether you have an umbrella to keep yourself from getting wet.”

DreamFaith operates under a core foundation of two principles, Thompson said, which are self-empowerment and the empowerment of others. The Foundation has multiple programs, which include community outreach, workshops and even sports training.

“We’ve done basketball camps,” Thompson said, “we’ve participated in camps with Kevin Durant. We’ve also partnered with Dell, Inc. to conduct engineering and gaming workshops at Steve Harvey’s mentoring weekend event.” He added that DreamFaith has awarded over 25 scholarships in the past five years to graduating high school seniors, has donated school supplies and has generally aimed to help young people by boosting their confidence with some all-important intangibles.

“We just try to help kids and teach them life skills as well,” he said.

Thompson said he tries to get back to St. Pete—where most of his family still resides—at least once every few months to make sure the program is running smoothly. He’d ultimately like to bring a mentoring program to several neighborhoods in his hometown.

“We partnered not just with St. Pete’s Promise but with Parks and Recreation as well,” he explained, “so we meet with them once a month and they’re helping us to get everything going at Childs Park. Depending on the success of the mentoring program, the goal is really to involve all of the recreation centers.”

The DBI mentoring program is aimed at students from fourth grade through 12th grade, and according to the National Mentoring Partnership, children who are mentored are more likely to raise their goals and get better grades and less likely to get involved with drugs.

“We wanted to cater to some of the struggles and some of the things the kids in south St. Pete have experienced,” Thompson affirmed.

The program is always looking for mentors, and to qualify Thompson said applicants must be at least 18, pass a background check and go through free training provided by St. Pete’s Promise. He added they must be passionate about making a difference in what could provide “a lasting and ongoing impact on a child’s life.” The program also welcomes corporate sponsorship and donations.

Currently a program manager at Dell Computers with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s in business administration, Thompson is a success story himself, as he admitted he was a slow learner that could barely read when he was in the second grade. But he had drive and determination, and as his friends played basketball and video games after school, he stayed home among a pile of books, pushing himself to overcome his academic shortcomings. He now stresses to young people the importance of working hard and making sacrifices to achieve their goals.

“I always tell people that I was never the smartest kid in the class,” he affirmed. “It might take me twice as long to understand a concept as anybody else, but I was willing to put in the work and the time in order to do it. Because sometimes it’s not about how smart you are but how hard you work.”

To any at-risk or disadvantaged youngsters who sometimes feel they may never be able to rise above their circumstances, Thompson’s advice is simple:

“You’re bigger than your circumstances, you’re more powerful than you think you are,” he stressed. “Sometimes you just have to go out and do it and when you do that you’ll surprise yourself! When you have those small victories you start to gain confidence. It’s all about putting the work in. If you put in the work, you’ll get the results.”

For more info about the DBI and The DreamFaith Foundation, email [email protected].

To reach Frank Drouzas, email [email protected]

More than Mayors: Joint Cleanup on 49th Street

Posted by brojohn47 on November 6, 2014 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson at 49th Street Clean Up

By: Cathy Salustri - The Gulfport Gabber Published: November 3, 2014


Although billed as a joint mayoral cleanup, organizers and many of the 125-plus volunteers who swept 49th Street for litter Saturday morning say the morning was about more than trash. What mattered to many of the participants was the unification of both sides of the street.

“I think the cleanup was a monumental first step in breaking down barriers, changing perceptions and establishing a working relationship that is mutually beneficial to the residents on both sides of 49th Street,” Childs Park Neighborhood Association president Brother John Muhammad said.

“It is about more than litter,” Gulfport Neighbors president Margarete Tober said. “It is about community collaboration. We hope that Saturday's event leads to further social and economic collaboration. The time is right, the political climate is right, let us make this the start of new beginnings. We are and should only be divided by four lanes of asphalt-nothing else.”

Childs Park Teen Council, Gulfport Little League, Childs Park Neighborhood Association and Westminster Heights Neighborhood Association turned out for the Gulfport Neighbors-organized cleanup. The turnout pleasantly surprised the Gulfport Neighbors.

 Members of the Childs Park Teen Council during 49th Street Clean up

“It brought tears of joy,” Tober said. “There were more people than I ever expected.”

Although So49, the business group allegedly representing 49th Street businesses, did not send any volunteers or materially participate in the cleanup, President Jeri Reed offered “good wishes,” according to Tober and told the group she would attend “in spirit.”

In all, volunteers collected over 200 pounds of trash, which often came in the form of drug baggies, cigarette butts and snack wrappers.

“When you consider it is mostly paper, plastic and Styrofoam cups, soda and beer cans and bottles, cigarette butts and drug paraphernalia, I think it is a great deal of trash,” Tober said.

Jason Pelszynski, one of the few 49th Street business owners who participated in the cleanup (The Gabber and the Sharp Edge barber shop offered rest areas, water and bathroom facilities along the route), said the joint effort was long overdue.

"It’s about time we pulled together for something like this. While there’s always going to be trash and all of it isn’t going to end up in the can, we can do more together than apart to keep 49th Street tidy,” he said. “The cleanup helped promote a unified approach to the issue and I hope it can make a difference along this bustling business corridor. And keeping this neighborhood clean and tidy can not only boost the image from the public’s perspective but can also help encourage a sense of pride from residents and other business owners.”

St. Petersburg’s new police chief, Anthony Holloway, participated in the cleanup, as did Gulfport Police Chief Rob Vincent. When presented with complaints about the Quick Stop and neighboring wig store, Holloway went inside both stores and promised “we’ll be out here next week.”

Holloway said he wanted to get the mobile substation to the parking lot of the Quick Stop for officers roll call. He also promised to review certain business practices at the store in regards to alcohol consumption.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman told the crowd at the start of the cleanup, “We’re just separated by a street,” adding, “It’s about time we started paying attention to it.”

Holloway, along the cleanup route, mused over the divide between the two cities.

“How do we take down this border?” he said. “It’s going to take the community.”

After Saturday’s cleanup, residents and businesses from both sides of the street talked about future joint projects.

“I know it’s only been a few days since we were out there with our bags, pickers and gloves,” Pelszynski said Tuesday afternoon, “but I can tell you honestly that the street is still gleaming and I haven’t had to clean up the usual weekend debris that normally accumulates in front of the studio. Let’s do more of these!”

Muhammad agrees.

“We are interested in developing joint ventures with the Childs Park Neighborhood Association and Gulfport teen councils to address some of the concerns and challenges that face our youth in the near future,” he told the Gabber. “I think it would be great to work with the future leaders, groom them and allow them to determine the ‘next steps’ because any plan or idea for the future must include them.”

Contact Cathy Salustri at [email protected]