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Winter 2004 issue of In-Sites magazine, published by the Community Capacity Development Office (formerly Weed & Seed Office), Office Justice Programs (OJP)CCDO Home pageHomeLetter From the DirectorOJP SealLetter From the U.S. AttorneyPhotos representing weeding and seeding efforts: two police officers smiling at the camera, three individuals painting over graffiti on a wall, woman holding a potted plant. About In-SitesFind Past IssuesSubmit Stories Subscribe Prevention, Intervention, Treatment - In This Section banner

When Spring Break Is More Than a Break

Photo of youth displaying trophies at a Weed and Seed camp.
Youth display trophies at a Weed and Seed camp during spring break.

No kids complaining of boredom here.

For one week in April, during the public schools' spring break, a Weed and Seed camp was the place where everyone played basketball, everyone read books, and everyone had a good time.

This year, the Eighth Annual City of Atlanta Weed and Seed T.E.A.M.-building camp partnered for the first time with the Atlanta Police Department's Third Annual "Shoot Hoops, Aim High" basketball camp. T.E.A.M (Together Everyone Achieves More) and its partners pooled their resources to incorporate athletic activities, reading sessions, and educational field trips into a spring break program. The program also taught character development and youth leadership skills.

The children who live in three local Weed and Seed sites in the Mechanicsville and Pittsburgh neighborhoods are seeing their communities go through the initial stages of redevelopment, and Weed and Seed and its partners wanted to ease the children's anxieties about this. In the Mechanicsville community, the Housing Authority received a HOPE VI grant to revitalize the McDaniel Glenn Housing project. In the adjacent community of Pittsburgh, the Civic League Apartments were purchased to be rebuilt into contemporary-styled housing.

The camp was held in a designated Safe Haven, the Dunbar Recreation Center, which houses nonprofit agencies, faith-based organizations, and government agencies whose service delivery focuses on child development, career training, health and wellness, and economic development. The Safe Haven has a cyber lab sponsored by the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency that offers classes on basic computer competency.

Every day during the school year between 3 and 4:30 p.m., athletic activities at the recreation center stop, and representatives from the Department of Parks and Recreation and Cultural Affairs and the Police Athletic League help children with homework. During the 1-week camp, the Mayor's Office of Weed and Seed and the Atlanta-Fulton County Library system introduced D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) time for 30 minutes and offered selections from the Atlanta Public Schools' suggested reading list.

Special activities also proved to be fun and educational. Younger children explored the wilderness setting at the Pine Mountain Wild Animal Safari Park, and older children traveled to Birmingham, AL, to hear firsthand accounts of the lives of African Americans during the civil rights movement. In addition, the Atlanta Hawks surprised campers by inviting them to tour Philips Arena and presenting each child with a collection of basketball trading cards and folders.

The camp inspired many people from many organizations to give of their time. Volunteers came from the Atlanta Police Department, Mayor's Office of Weed and Seed, DEA, mass transit police, Police Athletic League, Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department, Fulton County Juvenile Court, Department of Parks and Recreation and Cultural Affairs, Mechanicsville Civic Association, Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association, Vine City Civic Association, and the Atlanta-Fulton library system.

The week of activities confirmed for all of those involved that healthy child development is enhanced by relationships developed beyond family. The camp was an innovative approach to filling in the gap between formal education and home training.

"This is another level of growth for the City of Atlanta's Weed and Seed, and each year it becomes a learning experience for all of us," said Karen Rogers, Director of Weed and Seed.

One of many lessons learned from this joint venture was how important advance planning is and how pooling resources can transform youth service delivery from myriad distinct programs that have short-term effects to a collaborative project that brings about a long-term comprehensive outcome. Atlanta's Weed and Seed is viewing the success of the camp as merely a catalyst to plan future joint crime prevention projects.

For further information, contact:

Toija Sandifer
Seed Coordinator for the Mechanicsville and Pittsburgh sites


Involving Faith-Based and Community Organizations



When Spring Break Is More Than a Break



School Program Helps Kids Stay Out of Prison



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