Monday, August 20, 2012 - 4:16am
Youth Activity Days on Theresa Terrace, Mondays from 2-4:30pm. Media invited Monday, August 20, 2:45-4:30pm.
Every Monday afternoon this summer, Theresa Terrace is blocked off from traffic so the Hammersley/Theresa-area Neighbors can hold what is being called Youth Activity Days. This weekly, resident-organized event is intended to provide kids adequate access to youth programming, something that is lacking in this and other southwest side neighborhoods.
The Hammersley/Theresa-area Neighbors began meeting last winter to organize around the strengths and challenges of their neighborhood. They have set as their long term goal to create a community gathering space in their immediate neighborhood that would focus on supporting every child to be healthy and successful. As a step toward that vision they decided to begin hosting Youth Activity Days on Theresa Terrace.
"From the beginning, we agreed that we couldn't wait, we had to plan something for this summer that would be positive for the kids in the neighborhood," said Hammersley/Theresa neighbor Tamar Pardee. "It's amazing what can be accomplished in a short amount of time when there is a sense of urgency as well as committed people who have the interest of the neighborhood in mind. And our hard work has paid off; every Monday, we see kids engaged and excited to be out on the street learning and playing together."
This spring the neighborhood group held car washes and a garage sale to raise funds for the programming and the meal that is provided each week. They also worked with their alder and City staff to acquire a street use permit allowing them to shut down the street. "It was obvious the first time I met with the group that they were determined to improve their neighborhood," said Alder Matt Phair, who represents Hammersley/Theresa. "What really impressed me, however, was the degree to which they have owned the positive change that is taking place in the neighborhood."
On any given Monday, between 50-75 kids, mostly elementary-aged, are engaged in arts and crafts, science activities, dance, face painting, basketball and more. The Hammersley/Theresa-area Neighbors has partnered with the Prairie Hills Neighborhood Association, Public Health Madison Dane County, the UW Morgridge Center and the Clean and Freshies (local youth hired through Youth Services of Southern WI) to help organize the events. Residents see the Youth Activity Days as a way they can respond to the immediate needs of the neighborhood and move them a step closer to their vision of having a community gathering space in their neighborhood.
"When people stand up and take ownership of their neighborhood, positive change is the result. We've seen it happen in other areas of the city and there is no reason why it can't happen here," said Alder Phair. "I am proud to partner with the Hammersley/Theresa-area Neighbors and look forward to keeping the momentum going."Contacts:
- Valerie Vance, (608) 216-9071
- Alder Matt Phair, (608) 772-1187