A promise of prevention

Posted 7/7/09

At 5:45 on July 1, Littleton Police Special Enforcement Team officers parked their cars near Promise Park and waited. A quick scan of the area …

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A promise of prevention


At 5:45 on July 1, Littleton Police Special Enforcement Team officers parked their cars near Promise Park and waited.

A quick scan of the area revealed little activity. The park was empty and only the sound of music could be heard spilling out the window of one of the high-rise apartment complexes surrounding the park.

Graffiti scrawled across a brick wall to the west of the park told something of the area’s character.

At 5:50 the sound of a bouncing basketball echoed across the empty parking lot.

Littleton Police officers Jim Hanna and Hal Mandler were quick to move.

“Get your buddies and let’s play full court,” hollered Hanna to the group of boys emerging from their apartments.

Within minutes, they had a game of basketball going.

“Even the most fragile parts of the community should be as much a part as the most well-off,” said City Manager Jim Woods.

The northeast neighborhood, where Promise Park is located, accounts for the majority of the city’s low-income, residents: young singles, a minority population, seniors on fixed incomes, single moms.

Woods, who won’t readily admit that he’s the man behind the city’s informal Risk Intervention Program, says it’s about “being part of a whole community.”

Kay Wilmesher, the city’s program coordinator for the Greater Littleton Youth Initiative, says the risk intervention program was designed to “target kids who are stuck inside their apartment buildings while their parents work one, two and sometimes three jobs just to live.”

“Often the older kids are babysitters, so we’re trying to get all the siblings to come outside and play,” Wilmesher said.

She also gave Woods credit for the program saying he has a “real passion for the kids in the northeast neighborhood.”

June 1 marked the official launch of the program’s summer events, which are scheduled every Wednesday through the summer.

Littleton Police Department’s Special Enforcement Team, Littleton Public Schools, the Immigrant Integration Initiative, the Binning Family Foundation and North Littleton Promise are all part of the informal group.

“Our goal was to bring neighborhood folks together but to also hand out a summer activity calendar for things taking place in the neighborhood all summer. Our goal is to get kids out of their apartments to have fun,” Wilmesher said.

At the summer kickoff event, officers cooked hot dogs and hamburgers. Kids got to play in a bouncy castle. South Suburban set up an I.D. station; LI3 and Bemis Library had information tables: there was a cake walk, sack races and more.

Wilmesher estimated that roughly 150 area residents came out to participate.

In the fall of 2008, the group sponsored a Back-to-School Night. Several women who lived in nearby apartment complexes helped plan the event and went door to door to get the word out about it. Several hundred people came for free activities, books, school supplies, information, and food cooked by officers.

For details contact Kay Wilmesher, 303-795-3721 or kwilmesher@littletongov.org.


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