Safe Passages Home
When the U.S. Dream Academy asked the kids and teens who participate in their after school programs about challenges they face in attending each day, who would have thought something as basic as feeling safe in their travels to and from school would be one of the biggest concerns? In fact, the survey responses they received were a call to action. Fights, gang activity, crime, abandoned buildings, dark streets – things that would make most adults think twice about turning the corner – all contributed to many of the kids feeling threatened while walking home.
The response to that call to action? The “Safe Passages Home” initiative – a novel program that engages older Dream Kids, parents, law enforcement and fire rescue personnel and community members to ensure kids feel safe in their travels to and from school each day and their communities. The program has also sought local partners, including churches and businesses along the most traveled routes, to sponsor a block or entire street with the commitment of watching over kids and keeping them safe.
Who lead the charge? The Dream Academy kids. They rallied to the challenge and the work the initiative entailed, forming focus groups to understand the issues of their classmates and communities then making solid recommendations. They often worked outside their comfort levels, engaging local public safety teams and administrators to explain their goals, building trust, and relationships where there had been none.
The Dream Academy program is based on three foundational goals – helping kids build character; skills and, dreams. With the launch of Safe Passages, the Dream Kids turned those concepts into action. As the initiative rolled out at each of the eight Dream Academy centers in February and March, the kids behind the work had the right to be very proud. They were taking positive action to impact their world and leading by example. They were acting to protect their dreams and their futures. Great job, Dream Kids!
AND, a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to the Dream Academy and Samela Pynes (Sam) and Samy Georges, two of the Dream Kids behind the Safe Passages work in Orlando. Because of their amazing work and leadership in bringing the Safe Passages program to life, they’ve been awarded the first grant from the Amway-sponsored Who Cares? Challenge program!
To learn more about the Amway-sponsored Who Cares? Challenge! Program and how your teen can participate, visit: www.WhoCaresChallenge.com.