Partnering with the 16th District of the Philadelphia Police Department, Drexel University hosted National Night Out on Aug. 1 on Lancaster Walk. Dozens of tables lined the sidewalk for various organizations from the community and university.
According to the event details on Drexel’s Public Safety website, the event aimed to connect the community with law enforcement and offer “an opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.”
Along with law enforcement, all of the represented groups fulfilled a public service, including public safety, civic engagement and education.
Representing University City District, T. Freeman, a Public Safety Ambassador, explained the different resources available. As part of the Clean and Safe program, Public Safety Ambassadors act as walking escorts and aid in lock outs and jump starts, while Public Space Maintenance employees provide cleaning services and remove graffiti in the area.
Another program that Freeman mentioned was the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative. According to Freeman, “they go to Drexel, all the different companies, ask which type of employee that they need, create a curriculum and… help them get the job.”
Further down the line, Joan Weiner from the Powelton Village Civic Association laid out small bags of candy with cards explaining the purpose of the organization. According to Weiner, the group is composed of volunteers “dedicated to making Powelton Village a better place to live and work.”
As a historic district, the neighborhood serves a “mixture of… people who have been here longer than me as well as newcomers and students,” according to Weiner.
Advocating for childhood literacy, Diane Mills, a Reading Captain associated with Global Citizen and Read by 4th occupied another table. Reporting data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Read by 4th’s website states that over 70 percent of children perform below the expected reading level by 4th grade. To combat this, Reading Captains work with the organization to help provide various resources to parents and kids.
One way to improve literacy is by “making sure that parents know that the kids need to get to school on time because literacy is the first thing in the morning, so if they miss that, they’re missing literacy,” according to Mills.
Within childhood literacy, a major problem the organization tackles is the summer slide, which is “learning loss… [that] happens when children do not engage in educational activities during the summer months,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Mills explained how the summer slide takes place and its effect: “After school is out, a lot of kids don’t pick up books, so we want the kids to read at least 15 minutes a day… If they do not, what happens is, they forget everything that they learned and then when it’s time to go back to school, the teacher has to start all over to retain that.”
Along with community resources, university organizations such as Drexel EMS and the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA) also occupied tables to bring awareness to their organizations.
Surrounded by loud music and free food, attendants of National Night Out were able to get a lot of information about the various services available to the community.