LS wants to provide activities for low-income youth

rpulley@lsjournal.comApril 19, 2013 

Lee’s Summit leaders are beginning work on safe and affordable activities for low-income youth in the city.

The Lee’s Summit Human Services Advisory Board has invited the mayor and city council, members of the Civic Round Table, and others to gather April 23 to discuss the problem and solutions.

“We’ve invited a broad spectrum of people involved in the well being of the the community,” said Susan Coffmann, chair of the advisory board. The group will get information and then break into groups to brainstorm, she said.

Lee’s Summit Police Officer Mark Wiesemann will provide background for the topic.

Pro Deo is the only resource currently operating where youths can go for free, although there are other programs that offer limited scholarships, Wiesemann said. But often there’s also the problem of transportation to help children and teenagers get to activities, he said.

At schools resources for extracurricular activity is limited, giving an example of tryouts for basketball at Bernard C. Campbell Middle School. About 50 students tried out for a total of 20 spots on the teams.

Wiesemann said the overall goal will be to increase opportunity for activity for all children and teens.

“It’s needed everywhere, we want to make it happen on a small scale and then expand, ” Wiesemann said.

He said the need was highlighted when the police department started a community policing program in the area about a year ago in the area bordered by Chipman Road, Lynn Street, Orchard Street and Magellan Avenue.

It includes a high percentage of rental property and has a higher call rate. Partly that’s because of the density, but also because there are more residents with lower incomes.

The department did a survey of residents, which showed their concerns were burglaries, drugs and “kids on the streets.”

All of which could be impacted if the community found resources to give young people alternatives for entertainment and programs for good role models, he said.

Some statistics illustrate the need:

Harvesters/Coldwater has identified 800 elementary students in Lee’s Summit who go hungry every day. R-7 has more than 3,500 students enrolled in free/reduced lunch program

The last Lee’s Summit census shows 1,181 households making less than $10,000 a year, 1,082 making between $10,000 to $15,000 and 2,264 making between $15,000 to $25,000 a year

The meeting is 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. April 23 at Paradise Park 1021 NE Colbern Road.

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