Philadelphia community meets to brainstorm ways to improve quality of life

An interactive meeting focused on quality of life was held at the Donald Finnegan Playground in Philadelphia Wednesday night.

The Young Chances Foundation hosts these meetings monthly in the Grays Ferry neighborhood.

"Our crime is down a little bit here, but we want to enhance that and try to show some strategies that enhance it. Maybe It’s replacing a streetlight or helping the football team out there on the field get some equipment," said Tyrique Glasgow, Executive Director of Young Chances Foundation. "Talk about recommendations that we can give to our representatives and leaders to increase the youth engagement and some of the issues that we deal with."

A team from Thomas Jefferson University led the interactive meeting that engaged attendees, including police officers, educators, nonprofit members, victim advocates and other community members.

The first exercise involved a "Quality of Life and Well-being Vision Board." Three different tables were tasked with filling it with newspaper clippings that identify the issues and reflect ways to improve those areas.


"I think the most pressing issue is literacy programs, work training skills and mental health programs," said Kim Smith, teacher and founder of the South Philadelphia Junior Stakeholders and the Philly Mentor Network. "You are a product of your own environment. If we don’t address our environment, then we’re just a product of it."

Sara Solomon is the Deputy Director of the Injury Science Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The CDC funds the center and eight others around the country.

Her agency’s mission bridges research, outreach and training to reduce violence and injuries in the community.

Solomon said Glasgow is part of the Penn Community Scholars program and displays a natural ability to bring ever sector to the table that is needed to create positive change.

"He’s modeling what really needs to be done, in my opinion, citywide, in order to tackle some of these complex challenges that are facing communities. Really, with his support and our resources at the University of Pennsylvania, trying to formalize this model of collective impact really to bring everyone around the table across sectors to address complex problems," said Solomon.

Solomon said moving forward she and Glasgow plan to look at the model, evaluate it and then hopefully replicate it in other parts of the city and then serve as a national model.

Community members said they’d like to see more youth engagement and involvement in these conversations.