LETTER: Resident has suggestions for local youth programs

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

Since the city does not publish letters to the council in the meeting packages at present, here is a copy of what I sent the council. Hopefully it can help our community start problem solving on this important issue:

Greetings Council and City Manager,

As I was unable to physically attend the April 2nd Council meeting, I am writing to make a few suggestions in regards to our community, especially as to youth programs.

Thank you for recognizing the many great things that Para Los Niños has done for Burien youth and families; however, Latinx youth are not the only young people who need support to grow into responsible community members. It is my hope that the recent tragedies involving guns, violence, and youth will spur us to find better ways to work together. After watching public comment during the council broadcast, I was struck by the number of speakers who spoke to the necessity of increased youth programs serving Burien / White Center / SeaTac / Des Moines / Normandy Park / Tukwila / West Seattle. I was also dismayed that only one mentioned the New Futures program that did wonderful work for years at The Heights (now Alturas) apartments. Because of funding issues, New Futures merged with South West Youth and Family Services (SWYFS) and closed their outreach site at Alturas. My personal observation is that closure was a major loss in the effort to provide needed after school programs for youth and to deter gang recruitment. I would urge the Council to work with SWYFS to find funding to restart their New Futures program at Alturas. We need more youth oriented programs, from arts, sports, learning enrichment, to civic engagement. Please reach out to multiple organizations, including the Navos Lake Burien (formerly Ruth Dykeman Children’s Center) and The Shark Garden at New Start High School. Perhaps KCSO might take a look at the Chicago “Cops and Kids Chess Initiative” to help both police and youth form bonds of respect and friendship.

Another thought is actively involving the multiple health organizations in Burien such as Highline Hospital or Kaiser Permanente. The Highline 401 school district is already over stretched for funding, but perhaps they could help identify youth leaders who could form the core of a Youth Advisory Board to give our young people a path to express their desires and needs that some of us older folks may not perceive.

Thank you for taking the time to read this rather lengthy letter.

Link to Cops and Kids Chess Initiative:


– Douglas Sykes

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