On April 28, families in our Toyota Family Learning (TFL) program joined forces with the NYPD’s 40th Precinct Community Affairs Unit and PSA 7 (the departments’ public housing division), and took to the streets. The literacy program puts a great emphasis on civic engagement through service learning. The Safety Walk is the culminating service project, through which participants are able to advocate for the change they’d like to see in their community.
The population TFL serves are primarily Spanish-speaking, recent immigrants to the Bronx. Given the unique needs of this demographic, parents have often voiced concerns over feeling intimidated when communicating with city agencies and organizations. Participants noted that obtaining medical care and engaging with emergency service workers, such as police and fire departments, can be a daunting task due to bureaucracy, unfamiliarity, and language barriers.
With this in mind, the group made the decision to create pamphlets in English and Spanish to promote our partner, the Segundo Belvis Health Center, which specializes in cultural competent practices. The health center allows easy access to medical care for underrepresented groups such as such as undocumented immigrants, low-income residents without health insurance, and those whose first language may not be English.
Participants additionally identified safety and quality of life issues in the community, such as violence, smoking on playgrounds, bullying, and pollution. With assistance from their parents, the children drew and painted pictures depicting these issues, which they carried with them through the streets. April 28th was also Pay It Forward Day. The group celebrated the spirit of the day by decorating bottles of water with kind slogans and ideas for random acts of kindness, handing them out to passerbys they met on the streets of Mott Haven.
The colorful posters and the presence of the NYPD officers, who lead the caravan, were successful in initiating conversations on the street about public safety and civic pride.
See photos from the event here