Officials in East Cleveland have long dreamed of offering children new pastimes to complement their interests in drugs and gangs. Now a $750,000 grant could make it happen.
The newly created East Cleveland Teen Collaborative will steer kids toward summer jobs and extracurricular activities, and away from thug life. “The concept of jobs as a means for young people to support themselves and their families can stop the lifestyle belief that they have to sell drugs and harm people,” says Joy Jordan, president of East Cleveland City Council. Jordan introduced legislation backing a similar program four years ago, but it stalled when the city remembered it has no money.
Thanks to the Kresge Foundation, the first programs are slated to begin with the start of the school year this fall. They will be overseen by representatives from the city, Cuyahoga County, Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services, Cleveland Clinic, and Huron Hospital.
The goal is to emphasize improving self-esteem and engagement in civic activities, according to Clinic spokeswoman Kate Fox Nagel. “It has been shown that teens with a vested interest in themselves and their community have improved decision-making skills and are less likely to engage in risky actions and behaviors.”
No word on whether the Clinic will wait till teen violence is over before following through with its plans to shutter Huron Hospital’s trauma center.