Urban centers are often the hub of creativity, innovation, and business development in most American cities, but the fact is, they can also be where some of the roughest neighborhoods and schools exist. Poverty rates are high, community involvement can be low, and a combination of variables make it a difficult place for positive things to happen. This morning, “The Today Show” took Al Roker on the road to San Francisco, where beyond the Golden Gate and the Wharf, a neighborhood exists that is doing something right.
A program called R.O.C.K. (Real Options for City Kids) has been very successful in an area of the city called Visitacion Valley, where success is sometimes hard to imagine. The organization is not looking for quick fixes and focuses on long term solutions for students there, mostly working through the ability to utilze play as a tool. By working both in school and after school, the group focuses not only on fitness, but also leadership training, and working through difficult challenges peacefully and respectfully. “The Today Show’s” visit also brought along three truckloads of supplies for the schools and ROCK, and as you might imagine, organizations like this are particulary stretched thin in the budget times we’re experiencing in cities. But the next time you’re looking for a success story about an urban district, remember that programs like this are in most American cities, it’s just a matter of finding them.