August 9, 2022

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Philadelphia youngsters truly feel safer with Kensington’s new summer season programming

“They must place a fence all over the park and give *us* the keys,” stated one particular fourth grader.

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Each individual day this summertime, the park and library at McPherson Sq. in Kensington transforms into a harmless space for young children, finish with cooking lessons hosted by the New Kensington Community Development Corporation and a new outpost of the city’s Playstreets plan.

Nevertheless the public park has normally experienced some stage of summer youth programming, this is the very first calendar year it has been transformed with new signage and perform devices, built by local nonprofit TinyWPA.

Neighborhood mothers and fathers look to like the software, which sections off the playground to produce a space for kids to play freely and properly — one thing normally lacking in the place all around McPherson Square.

“Many of these blocks have drug challenges, so it’s not secure for Playstreets to be held on individuals blocks,” stated neighborhood parent Theresa Malone.

Malone’s daughter Anastasia, a soaring fourth grader, mentioned she feels safer simply because of the new programming.

“Especially now that the fence is all around the playground,” Anastasia reported. “It keeps people today out — they need to place just one all-around the whole park and give us the keys!”

The neighborhood is regarded a gun violence “hotspot,” which suggests it regularly contributes disproportionately to Philadelphia’s taking pictures stats. 20-5 of the blocks that saw 10 or far more shootings in the course of 2021 are in Kensington, and the spot has some of the lowest median home incomes in the city. The summer time programming for children is a bright place.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation is operating its pop up PlayPark application in 3 Kensington places this 12 months, claimed office spokesperson Maita Soukup: McPherson Square, Hissey Playground, and Harrowgate Park. They’re attainable because of a partnership with the Absolutely free Library, the PPD, the Running Director’s Business, and the city’s Community Existence Enhancement Plan (CLIP), she reported.


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In addition to the snacks available by the Playstreets initiative, McPherson Sq. Library also delivers day-to-day totally free lunches for kids.

It’s run by a lady the little ones affectionately call “Miss Maria the Lunch Girl.” She arms out foodstuff and even sends residence extra meals for hungry siblings. About 16% of College District of Philadelphia households skilled food insecurity in the course of the 2020 to 2021 college yr.

“I’m just hoping to do my portion,” mentioned Bryan Belknap, the immediately after-college system coordinator at McPherson Library. He’s worked there considering the fact that 2015 and has a hand in developing its once-a-year summertime programming. Belknap suggests the Playstreets method averages all around 40 youth attendees a day, and that participation in the soon after-school system ebbs and flows with the academic 12 months on major of library closures.

“If the library was ever to shut down, a lot of our younger adult males would die or get wrapped up in a little something bad,” explained Malone.

Scroll for a search at youngsters and grown ups savoring McPherson’s summertime offerings.

Bryan Belknap, McPherson Square Library after-school program coordinator, pushing Jolissa on the swing
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A youngster playing on the ropes during Playstreets
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Jozephina going down the slide with her brother Josiah
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Getting snacks from Miss Maria the Lunch Lady
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Staff from the New Kensington Community Development Corporation prepare to lead cooking Class
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A young chef prepares for cooking class in the teen section of the library
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Library after-school coordinator Bryan Belknap making slime with the kids
Daisie Cardona for Kensington Voice
Playing in the McPherson Square playground during 'The Block Gives Back' event
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Adults taking advantage of the playground equipment during 'The Block Gives Back' event
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The McPherson Square playground fence with (R to L) Theresa Moreno, Riley, Ezekiel, Jozephina, Josiah, Corey, Mason, Latiff Amar, Jamil, Emory, Antonio, Amaya, and Anastasia
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McPherson Square Park and Library
Daisie Cardona for Kensington Voice