CITY OF TULSA, OK
Mayor M. Susan Savage

YOUTH DEVELOPMENT ALLIANCE

At a recent meeting between Mayor Savage and the three superintendents whose districts lie within Tulsa city limits, the most pressing educational issue was defined as school violence prevention. City government and schools are planning further collaborations to reduce the incidence of violence including gun safety awareness.

In Tulsa, the Youth Development Alliance (TDA) brings together leaders from education, juvenile justice, business, social service, religious community and law enforcement to work collaboratively in five areas to develop action plans. TDA Chair Police Chief Ron Palmer, requested that each work group develop a list specific actions with a projected completion date rather than to discussing general concepts. Many of the ideas were instituted immediately and are having positive results. They include a 24-hour central location to which juvenile arrestees are taken by law enforcement., early identification and referrals of children with behavior problems, support programs for the parents involved, a school wellness/prevention curriculum and family resource centers.

City Councilman Joe Williams has convened the Youth Violence and Suicide Task Force in response to drive by shootings in his district. Groups are networking with other local organizations to present a clear message that Tulsa supports responsibility and respect and will not condone violence. Tulsa has introduced a truancy court, in which parents of children not attending school are fined up to $250.

Early childhood neurological studies were the subject of seminar sponsored by the Mayor’s Office to help educate the public, child care workers and parents about the importance of the first three years in creating emotionally healthy and productive children. About three hundred people attended the conference which included comments by doctors, child therapists, educators and elected officials. The city has also demonstrated its determination to ensure effective early childhood experiences for its youngest citizens by accepting the request of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services to operate Head Start for nine months during which a new permanent sponsor was selected. Head Start provides health care and social services for families and increases the likelihood of school success for its children.

Local Law Enforcement Block Grants (LLEBG) in Tulsa Parks Department

The City of Tulsa is committed to creating several age-appropriate skill building experiences for youth. Many school violence prevention programs are based in creating positive alternatives for students in their leisure time, so that violence which is perpetuated outside school hours does not extend to school buildings. Children are at risk during the hours after school before their parents return from work.

The City of Tulsa has awarded $273,000 in LLEBG grants for violence prevention programs using the expertise of Park Department personnel collaborating with school and law enforcement officials. In RISE, (Recreate Individual Special Experiences) males 16 to 22 are targeted to play basketball in a league setting. In order to play, they are required to attend anger management, community awareness and computer training sessions.

Since idle summers are often a time for teens to develop attitudes and behaviors which may cause school disruptions, the City of Tulsa Park Department has created a work-and-learn program involving adolescents aged 14 to 18. Young people worked in the zoo, aquatic facilities, and park gardens. In job training segments they learn to create a resume, fill out job applications, participate effectively in an interview, and received CPR and first aid training. Drug tests were administered both before and at the end of the program.

Another summer program targeted high-risk youth living in public housing, who attended week-long programs with local artists and also law enforcement personnel. The children attended drug and alcohol prevention and gang and peer pressure n sessions. They participated in creating art through a wide variety of media culminating in a public presentation and gallery show. A similar after-school programs is held in Title 1 elementary and middle schools through the school year using poetry, dance, theater, photography, mask-making, painting and music to express concerns about gangs, weapons, suicide, and peer pressure.

Another program in five recreation centers provides after-school programs which include homework assistance, drug and alcohol prevention sessions, sports and crafts. It targets youth who are otherwise alone after school and are at risk for behaviors which could lead to school violence.

In each of these programs rigorous pre-and post testing is required.

The next round of LLEBG will involve collaborations between the school districts and Parks Department to share staff and facilities to increase the number of children reached in delinquency prevention. A further $41,968 was spent to fund a literacy program through the Juvenile Court system, expanding the network of trained volunteers and increasing literacy opportunities for youth at risk for academic failure. This program is designed to improve the chances of success for students re-entering the education system following serving sentences through the juvenile court system.

LLEBG Contact person:

Stephanie Arnold, 596-7413

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