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Take Back The Park
USA

Keyword: Crime Prevention

Background

A solution to a lack of usable urban recreational space, a major quality of life issue for urban youth and their neighborhoods, lies in youth and community residents themselves, who together, can provide a low-cost, effective strategy for reclaiming public spaces overwhelmed by problems like drugs. Take Back The Park supports this solution by providing a unique mix of youth leadership and crime prevention training that mobilize city youth to create activities that address tough issues facing neighborhoods. Take Back The Park is a summer-long, youth-run project that helps neighborhoods organize programming in local parks to drive out drug dealers, reclaim crime-ridden parks for the community, and build leadership skills among local youth.


Narrative

Take Back The Park began in 1987 when 25 young people, fed up with the negative drug activity, crime, and violence that plagued their community stormed into 3 parks to provide positive recreational, cultural, and educational activities for young people and adults during the summer months.

Take Back The Park represents a creative departure from previous youth programming in that it is the first and only project of its kind in New York City that gives young people --all high-risk youth-- a lead role in motivating peers and adults alike in reclaiming community recreational space from drug dealers.
Every summer, Take Back The Park mobilizes one or more New York City neighborhoods to reclaim a local park that has been taken away from the community by drug dealing, vandalism, and/or substance abuse. The program mobilizes and trains community coalitions, including representatives from youth, police, parks department personnel, community-based agencies, tenants associations and community boards in collaborative community planning. Skilled and experienced young staff work with neighborhood young people to design and coordinate Take Back The Park activities, conduct neighborhood needs assessment surveys, and develop a network between community youth and community police officers.

Participating youth are provided with 25 hours of youth leadership and community organizing skills training, including topics such as program planning, outreach, community problem-solving and strategies for addressing drug trafficking and substance abuse. All 15 of each Take Back the Park efforts remain in action today.


Impact

  • 15 parks and their surrounding neighborhoods have received the benefits of Take Back The Park since 1987.
  • Majority of staff involved in Take Back The Park are between the ages of 14-25 and work 10-25 hours per week.
  • More than 22,500 people have participated in the summer programs.
  • More than 160 young adults have received invaluable experience by being placed in leadership roles.

Sustainability

The project's sustainability is evident in its replicability. Take Back The Park is continually transferred and replicated in participating neighborhoods as communities, inspired by the project's training and technical assistance, continue to collaborate and plan programs addressing other community issues. Approximately 3 new Take Back The Park projects are initiated each year -- these neighborhood projects receive small but vital cash grants from the Citizens Committee to help support their summer activities.


Contact

    Take Back The Park
    305 Seventh Avenue, 15th Floor
    New York
    New York
    USA
    10001
    212-989-0909

Sponsor

    Citizens Committee for New York City, Inc.
    Michael E. Clark (President)
    305 Seventh Avenue, 15th Floor
    New York
    NY
    USA
    10001
    212-989-0909

Partners

    Local Government
    Rojas, Alexandra
    305 Seventh Avenue, 15th Floor
    New York
    NY
    USA
    10001
    212-989-0909

    Community-Based Organizations
    Clark, Michael
    305 Seventh Avenue, 15th Floor
    New York
    NY
    USA
    10001
    212-989-0909

    Local/Community Development Corporation


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