Thursday, September 11, 2008

At Jim Gilliam Recreation Center in South L.A.

Los Angeles - Jim Gilliam Recreation Center held the Summer Night Lights' Blowout Celebration on Saturday, August 30, 2008. Hundreds of kids and their families came together to participate in the program's culminating festivities.

The daylong event at Jim Gilliam featured entertainment (ranging from Aztec dancers to Hip-Hop music artists), basketball, soccer, marble and handball tournaments, skateboard competition, crafts and aerosol art. Youth arrived on buses beginning at 9:00 a.m.. coming from the seven other recreation centers where the program took place.

The Summer Night Lights program targeted eight L.A. City park facilities in the City's Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) zones in an effort to combat gang violence during the traditionally most-violent summer months. Summer Night Lights' three major components were:

1) Extended Hours & Programming: From July 4 through Labor Day, eight Recreation Centers extended hours until midnight, four nights a week (Wednesday-Saturday) and expanded programming to include youth centered recreational, educational and artistic activities to engage in positive activities during peak times of violence.

2) Youth Squad: Ten community coordinators were hired to create and staff the extended hours and programs at each park. Community coordinators are at-risk youth, ages 17-20, who have received extensive training and will receive stipends for 10 weeks.

3) Cease-Fire: Intervention workers helped maintain cease-fires on-site at Recreation Centers and in the surrounding community. They assisted in hiring and overseeing community coordinators and assist with expanded programming.

The Department locations that were selected for the program were Ramon Garcia RC, Cypress Park, Glassell Park and Pool, Mount Carmel, Ross Snyder Park and Pool, Hubert Humphrey RC and Pool, Ramona Gardens RC and Jim Gilliam RC. The eight sites were selected due to the large number of youth, high rates of violence and the low-socioeconomic status of their surrounding communities.

Summer Night Lights was developed in partnership with LAPD, LAUSD, Recreation and Parks, Cultural Affairs, community and faith-based organizations, gang-intervention workers, community residents, youth, business lenders and neighborhood councils. The program was funded through a $1 million contribution raised by Reverend Jeff Carr, the Mayor's Director of Gang-Reduction and Youth Development and other organizations, such as the Weingart Foundation and Wells Fargo Bank.

The success of the Summer Night Lights was recognized by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a press conference about the gang reduction program on Monday, September 8, 2008 at Jim Gilliam Recreation Center. During the press conference, recreation staff was recognized for what they do best- providing activities for youth. Their efforts undeniably contributed to the success of the program, allowing for the hope that Summer Night Lights is only the beginning of due change in some disadvantaged neighborhoods.

According to Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton, violent crime statistics did go down during the weeks of Summer Night Lights, dropping 17 percent in the communities surrounding the eight program sites compared to the previous year.

For more information on the Summer Night Lights program or the Department in general visit our website at or call (213) 928-9200.

Jane Kolb: (213) 928-9294
Harvey Drut: (213) 928-9296

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