Building on Strength

was the watchword of our community planning efforts, which looked to identify community assets and make the most of them.

Determined efforts to make the 7-census Heart of Kensington a safer, more engaged and cohesive community have continued to make headway thanks to goal setting, persistent effort and broad support.

Planning work clearly showed that residents’ top priority was reducing crime and drug activity.  This year’s signature project, reclaiming McPherson Square Park from the drug trade, supported this goal.  Two years of collaboration with the Police, Parks and Recreation, and our Councilwoman were capped by building a KaBOOM! Playground in two days.  Guided by KaBOOM! staff and funded by the Flyers Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, and the city, the new play space has become a vibrant center of positive activity in what was a drug-invested area littered with used syringes.  Comm Develop Web Pic

Encouraged by their success and by Parks and Recreation, a new civic organization, Friends of McPherson Square was organized this winter.   Their first-ever event, Spring Fest, drew a crowd of almost 400 residents and was the largest gathering ever held in the Park.   A full 92% of the residents surveyed reported improved safety and decreased drug activity at McPherson Square; 71% described the improvements as “considerable” or “great”.

A full-scale summer camp and lunch program, serving 50 children and employing 8,  launched just as the year ended, thanks to the continued commitment of Parks and Recreation to our mutual goal of providing the area’s children and families with a safe place to walk and play outdoors.   McPherson Square Library, located in the center of the park, saw a 10% increase in use as the city again responded to community need and restored Saturday hours after a decade.

Comm Develop Web Pic 2Impact’s participation in Park and Recreation’s Summer Nutrition and Play Street Program continued to be a model for the city with 745 children participating in the fifty-day program; 37,250 meals were distributed by the 34 residents organized and supported by Impact’s outreach team.  The coming year presents new challenges as we seek to build additional programming, engagement, and physical improvements around key anchors, and to leverage city and state legislation that’s been passed to bust blight and disinvestment.