The five-week Esperanza’s anti-violence summer youth internship program was a great success. Almost 50 students participated, and they were all compensated. The internship consisted of two cohorts. One cohort learned about environmental justice and how it relates to public health and well-being. The students from the second cohort were placed in a business of their interest where they learned about entrepreneurism, business operations, and management.
Students in the environmental cohort focused on 4 pillars, which were cleaning, greening, cooling, and community organizing. Each day the students did different activities such as tree-checking, community gardening, and block clean-ups. Additionally, students attended a block party hosted by the 25th Police District and participated in several field trips. At the end of each day, students were given de-brief questions to help them reflect on their day and they had the opportunity to discuss their thoughts and perspectives with their peers. Civic scientists from Drexel University’s research lab visited Esperanza to have the students go on a walking route and collect air quality and air temperature data around the Hunting Park neighborhood. Lastly, several guest speakers came to talk with students about different career opportunities.
Students in the business cohort were given the opportunity to work in different businesses of their interest within Esperanza’s commercial corridor. Students were placed in beauty salons, car shops, restaurants, pharmacies, and grocery stores. They interacted with customers and reported to the owner of the store. They were given great advice from business owners on how to start their own business and all of the hard work that is required. The business cohort also had weekly de-briefs, which gave students time to reflect on their week and the progress that they made in the businesses.
This internship’s primary focus was having students be a part of anti-violence initiatives that promotes a safer community for families to live, grow, and play.
The homicide rate in Philadelphia continues to increase and it is higher than last year
In 2021, there was a record year for homicides in Philadelphia. According to the City of Philadelphia Office of the Controller, there have been 346 homicides to date. Additionally, the Office of the Controller has an interactive map that presents each fatal and non-fatal shooting in Philadelphia. The map suggests that gun violence is concentrated in North Philadelphia. Specifically, in the Hunting Park neighborhood and surrounding areas. Therefore, it was critical that Esperanza’s interns completed work that decreased violence in the neighborhood. For example, interns participated in Esperanza’s Waste Free Wednesdays, which devoted every Wednesday to community block cleanups. Having students be a part of this initiative was important because studies have shown that picking up trash and debris in neighborhoods and vacant lots can help decrease violence. Violence is a public health crisis, and it needs to be treated like one. Where a person lives should not dictate whether they are exposed to violence.
There are some populations that experience more violence than others. Specifically, a person’s health outcomes are influenced based on where they live, work, play, and learn. Communities of color tend to experience these negative conditions and have a greater risk for poorer health outcomes. Therefore, the summer youth internship that Esperanza hosted was critical because it helped address the underlying conditions that affect health and quality of life. Additionally, it is critical that communities that experience high violence have support from community leaders so that plans can be developed that address the social, economic, structural, and physical conditions that lead to violence.
Esperanza is extremely proud of their hard-working interns, as they have all worked incredibly hard these past five weeks. Esperanza will continue to work with students and community residents to help increase violence prevention efforts.