View The YouTube Video
Mayor Richard M. Daley today outlined the wide variety of programs and activities for young people that are offered by the City, its sister agencies and other partners during the Chicago Public Schools spring break, which began yesterday for students in year-round schools and starts Monday, April 18 for students on the traditional calendar.
All CPS students return to class on Monday, April 25.
“As we move into spring and the weather gets better and children are outside the house for more time each day, we need to give them every chance to be involved in positive activities and away from violence,” Daley said in a news conference held at Navy Pier.
“This is a welcome break for parents, students, teachers and administrators. But as we all know, this extended period out of school gives our young people time on their hands, which can be dangerous,” he said.
The Mayor said one of the most important spring break programs is the “Safe Haven” partnership between the City’s Department of Family and Support Services, the Chicago Public Schools and the faith-based community.
“Safe Haven” began during the winter recess in 2009 and provides lunch, security, transportation and a variety of activities centered on the theme “Stop the Violence, Stop the Silence.”
The program with 24 churches serving about 600 young people. This year’s Spring Break Safe Haven will include 100 churches throughout the city and will serve about approximately 3,500 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
“Safe Haven” includes programming for students in the performing arts as well as conflict resolution. High School students in the program can gain service learning hours by helping tutor elementary school students.
The program operates from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day but Thursday next week. On Thursday the 21st at the UIC Forum, “Safe Haven” participants will engage in an “American Idol”-like competition in dance, group sing and spoken word.
Daley identified numerous other positive activities to keep young people engaged and learning during the break:
- The CPS Track Meet and the CPS Windy City Relays will be held April 22nd and 23rd at Hanson Stadium.
- The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) program will also continue to offer a variety of programs during spring break that are designed to provide positive experiences and teach life skills. These include sports and music seminars, movie days and safety workshops.
- The Chicago Park District offers a variety of programs and events for youth at more than 200 parks throughout the city. This week and next, the Park District will offer its Spring Break Camps for children at more than 40 locations around the City. In addition to Spring Break camp, the Park District will also offer a number of Earth Day and Easter activities during April.
Daley said all the spring break activities are an important part of the City’s overall effort to end the violence in Chicago – especially violence involving young people.
He said that currently, Chicago is one of six cities invited by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education to take part in the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention.
In this group, the cities share challenges and strategies for preventing youth violence and explore ways in which federal agencies can better support local efforts.
The Mayor said that as a pilot project within this group, Chicago will focus on integrating three existing programs in the 7th and 9th police districts to address youth violence: the Chicago Public Schools’ Student Safety Initiative, Chicago’s Juvenile Intervention Support Center and the newly-created Juvenile Violence Prevention Forums.
In addition, Chicago proposes to convene a new citywide youth violence prevention Task Force to help coordinate efforts among government agencies at all levels and faith-based, community and business leaders.
The Mayor reminded parents that it is their responsibility to ensure their children are safe, involved in positive activities and home by curfew.
He told students to keep themselves and their friends safe.
“The key to ending youth violence is collaboration. Each strategy the City adopts must be backed by a community effort,” Daley said.
“But remember, these steps won't work unless each of us accepts our responsibility to make our children safer. I urge everyone to make a commitment today to make these two weeks a safe and productive spring break for our children.
# # #