Even though I didn’t live on the south side when I was growing up I would always commute there for various reasons. While I was in high school I made some friends who went to South Mountain High School. I can remember my friends telling me to check out the South Phoenix Youth Center, which is located just north of South Mountain High.
I took a drive by there last Friday to see if it was still in action. I was very happy to see the center was still alive and thriving at 5245 South 7th St.. The day I stopped by the center was showing a movie called “ The Mummy” on a large screen inside a very large room. In another room DeDe, an employee at the center, was mopping up after a few kids who just attended a cooking class with her.
The South Phoenix Youth Center offers a variety of programs to the public. These include programs like: City Streets Mobile Unit, Domestic Violence Program, X-Tattoo removal, “RIP”, and several groups like dance, step, speech and debate, and double dutch. The center offers even more programs, but I will touch on the few I just mentioned starting with the City Streets Mobile Unit.
In June of 1992, the Parks, Recreation and Library Department identified problems of limited outreach programs and services in the areas of youth employment, education, social services, recreation, community involvement and limited transportation for youth ages 6-21. A library bookmobile was converted into a recreation and resource center to mobilize youth development programs and services to undeserved and non-served areas within Phoenix. Since 1993, the Mobile Unit program has been and continues to be supervised and coordinated by the At Risk Youth Division of PRLD. The Mobile unit had board games, hi-tech stereo system 3 computers, books, magazines etc.
The domestic violence program they have is through the City of phoenix. The center just acts as a “middle man” to get the individual seeking help the help they need.
In 1995, the At Risk Youth Division of City of Phoenix Parks, Recreation and Library Department joined together with River of Dreams, a non-profit organization, members of the Arizona Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, Phoenix 100 Rotary and Valley Vocational Services to create the program called X-Tattoo. The program wants to help former gang members who are trying to begin a new life. Removal treatments are held once every nine weeks. Volunteer plastic and reconstructive surgeons and dermatologists conduct the laser treatment. The participant group ranges from 13-23+ years of age. The participants have to do 8-16 hours of community service prior to the treatment and some are required to take an educational session. There is a fee scale for ages 23+, but for 20-22 years old the fee is $25.00, and for 13-19 years old the fee is $10.00.
“RIP” stands for Recreation Internship Program. The Recreation Internship Program (Rip), was created to help youths compete with more experienced adults for summer and part-time year around recreation positions. Youths 15-19 are hired as trainees, interns, and apprentices to learn and experience several employment opportunities within the parks and recreation profession, business agencies and non-profit organizations. All RIP interns are hired as official City of Phoenix employees for their 12-week internship. During the summer the program is 8 weeks. To be eligible Rip interns must be 15 years of age at the beginning of the session and not older than 19 years of age at the end of the session. They also must be currently enrolled in school, or have already graduated from high school or alternative high school.
While I was at the center exploring, an employee walked up to me and asked me if I need an application for the RIP program, and she handed one to me. I thanked her for the complement she had just given me on my age, and I also told her I wish I was in high school all over again so I could take advantage of the many programs the South Phoenix Youth Center has to offer. Times have changed and it is nice to see somebody does care about the kids in the areas many people had written off. I’m a product of a “hood”/”barrio” and I’m an example for everyone to see that we can make it, and we have potential.
[i] The following information provided about the center and the programs came from several brochures offered at the center.