The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Philadelphia children are getting hit hard

GRAPHIC: RACHEL KWOK ’22/ THE HAWK

Under-served and lower-income Philadelphia public schools have finally made the transition to an in-person learning format, months after other districts throughout the state and country had already done so. 

However, the current state of the city and the problems children who live in the city face are less than ideal. 

First and foremost, no one could have anticipated the immense global impact that the coronavirus pandemic would have on our society. The pandemic left high school students without a year of in-person schooling, it will be a challenge for the youth of the next few generations in this city to succeed. 

Gun violence still riddles several communities within Philadelphia, and more children than ever are being victimized, like the one-year old child who was shot in West Philadelphia this past summer on June 18. 

And, to make matters worse, the destructive effects of climate change have also become more evident in Philadelphia, a city that is not used to natural disasters. 

Climate change has been a factor that has disproportionately impacted the low-income public school students in Philadelphia. After experiencing the horrific aftermath of Hurricane Ida, it’s very clear that Philadelphia does not have the infrastructure to withstand natural disasters. 

Simply put, the children of Philadelphia are suffering. 

The grim and inhumane nature of these problems should make every parent, educator, future-educator and Philadelphian alike, question how one of the most innovative cities in the world could be riddled with such an adverse system. 

All of this is to say that there are many “adult” problems that kids are having to face the effects of. So, what can we do? It is without a doubt that the effects of COVID-19, gun violence and climate change make it harder for young people to succeed in this city. But, consider this range of solutions.

One solution is to start by creating community gardens and planting trees to promote the well-being of urban communities through environmental care. Not only do community gardens enable us to foster environmentally-friendly spaces in which community members and youth can bond, but they can also be used to combat food insecurity or even provide an outlet for Philadelphia youth to participate in recreational activities.

Mentoring programs can also serve as effective methods of support for urban youth. Damaris Gimenez ’23, a philosophy major, told me about her experiences while attending Constitution High School, a Philadelphia public school in the Center City area. Damaris participated in a mentoring program at the Ballard Spahr law firm located in Philadelphia, where she was matched with an expert attorney from the firm. 

She describes how challenging the transition from high school to college was for her, and that as a woman of color, finding the right mentor has made a considerable difference in her life, influencing her career goals and shaping her college experience. 

On campus, the St. Joe’s Her’d mentoring program aims to support 7th and 8th grade girls attending Gompers, right next door to our campus. Programs like these truly make a difference in the lives of young women and girls, and can help to cultivate the next generation of leaders.

I encourage any reader to make it a part of their responsibility to be a part of the change. Join a mentoring program for youth, plant a tree or start a community garden and incorporate inclusion and diversity as a core tenant in your practice if you become a teacher or a businessperson. 

Our goal should be to ensure that those in the younger generations, in whatever community they are a part of, are granted a safe, clean, and loving environment to succeed in and thrive. 

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