The creation of clean and safe neighborhoods with easily accessible community spaces encourage a greater sense of community and help residents to thrive. Organizations are working together to help people of all ages connect with each other and build relationships with members of their community to further improve the security of local neighborhoods.
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SUCCESS STORIES INFLUENCING COMMUNITY
Developing programs to intervene with at-risk youth and build positive relationships with law enforcement is integral in creating safe communities. Oceanside Youth Partnership initiated by the City of Oceanside Police Department partnered with Vista Community Clinic and North County Lifeline to strengthen these relationships by connecting at-risk youth with officers to provide guidance and support through physical fitness and team-building activities. The Unity Games brought SAY San Diego, Urban Collaborative Project, Project AWARE Enterprises, local law enforcement, faith groups and community organizations together to promote community cooperation. Project LIFE was created by North County Lifeline in conjunction with the 14-agency North County Human Trafficking Task Force led by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to heal and support victims of trafficking and to prevent future abuse with capacity expanding through efforts of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, Center for Community Solutions, San Diego Youth Services, and La Maestra Community Health Centers. The National Conflict Resolution Center’s Avoiding the Pipeline to Prison initiative in partnership with the San Diego Unified School District has helped keep at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system and has shown a 60 percent reduction in student expulsions and suspensions.
A clean and safe San Diego wouldn’t be possible without organizations working to improve the physical environment. Last year, volunteers with I Love a Clean San Diego’s Coastal Cleanup Day and Creek to Bay events removed 285,000 pounds of trash from the county’s beaches, canyons, creeks and parks. Casa Familiar and San Diego State University are working on a San Ysidro Air Quality Monitoring Study along the border Port of Entry to identify the sources and levels of air pollution in the area and develop strategies to reduce exposure in the community. High school students in the Ramona Unified School District have taken charge of environmental sustainability through an innovative food waste prevention and composting program, where they are composting up to six-hundred gallons of food scraps and leftovers at a time in a giant Earth Tub.
Organizations are encouraging walking, biking and taking public transportation, as well as increasing access to natural and community spaces. The City of El Cajon partnered with Circulate San Diego to create the Be Safe, El Cajon Campaign which raises awareness and promotes safe and enjoyable walking environments for all residents. To help children reconnect with nature and foster creativity using only natural surroundings, the City of San Diego partnered with San Diego Children & Nature to host a Nature Play Mud Day. The YMCA of San Diego County recently opened the Jackie Robinson YMCA, a new energy efficient and sustainable facility that is a place for the local community to gather and focus on wellness. St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center opened a new pool facility, one of many amenities that the center offers to serve adults with developmental disabilities and provide opportunities for growth.
MAKING IMPACT PERSONAL
Caroline Bartolome, Program and Education Manager for the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation, partnered with San Diego Gas & Electric to promote energy efficiency through education and outreach.
The Energy Initiative Partnership Program is designed to inform San Diegans about their energy consumption and to share energy-saving tips. With 70 community events a year, Bartolome’s event calendar spans the entire county, featuring a mix of public workshops, town hall meetings, fairs, festivals and field trips. Her background in kinesiology, coupled with her fluency in California State Science Standards, provides Bartolome with a unique perspective – one that she has used to launch a program for teens that relays energy efficiency messages through exercise, activism and volunteerism. The program is called Energy Saving Adventures and it’s a pinnacle of programming at the Lakeside and Spring Valley teen centers.
“Science powers everything,” said Bartolome. “It helps us understand how physical activity affects our health, and how personal habits affect the natural world.”
Bartolome supports other teen-centric programs like Nature Explorers, focused on sustainability and outdoor recreation, along with special projects like “Join Our CommunitEE – 30 Actions to Energy Efficiency,” which, in 2017, posed everyday challenges to 84 teens, resulting in 396 behavioral changes, such as reusing homework paper or composting food scraps.
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