The Philadelphia Police Department is launching a five-week program for youth to encourage positive decision-making and community involvement. The program, a partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, behavioral health organizations and other private businesses, will end with a commencement ceremony for the more than 200 participants.
The Community Health Enrichment Empowerment Resource Services program starts this Saturday at 9 a.m. and has four main goals:
create self-worth through positive motivation
provide youth with resources to contribute to society
empower youth to make positive decisions
enrich lives through community involvement and education
The youth participants come from five neighborhoods recognized as violent crime areas in the South, West, Northwest, North and Northeast. Community Relations Officer Gerri Doherty says the 8- to 17-year-old participants will be broken down into groups of 15, with about 45 students at each site. Groups of kids ages 8 to 10, 11 to 13 and 14 and 17 will work together.
Some of the CHEERS criteria are a history of struggle with truancy and curfews and exposure to violence. Some participants have lost a loved one to violent crime, but all the students must attend every Saturday and bring a parent or guardian. Word was spread through local rec centers, fliers and small community publications, drawing willing participants.