Community News: Westside Youth, Atlanta Police Department connect at At-Promise Field Day
May 23, 2019
On May 18, 500 youth, 200 volunteers and 100 law enforcement officers came together at JFK Park in Vine City for a day of friendly competition and games designed to forge camaraderie and understanding among Westside youth and police officers.
The second annual At-Promise Field Day is one of several community outreach programs staged annually by the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) to strengthen the bonds and level of trust between youth and law enforcement officers.
“This event breaks down barriers and builds bridges within one of Atlanta’s great historic, but sometimes troubled Westside community,” said Rachel Tolleson, APF Development Coordinator. “This program is gaining traction, having grown 100 percent in its second year, which proves that we’re building trust and expanding relationships among youth and officers alike.”
The event’s lead sponsor was Regions Bank and drew volunteers from Westside Future Fund (WFF), Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Urban League of Greater Atlanta, as well as other local businesses and organizations.
“This event is what we work for every day of the year,” said Erika Shields, Atlanta Police Department’s Chief of Police. “This day of celebration is where we can see everyone who is participating and benefitting from what we’re trying to accomplish. I wish we could do this every weekend.”
At-Promise Field Day event is one of several “beyond the badge” APF initiatives providing support and services to Westside youth in an effort to reduce crime and make the Westside safer. In 2017, APF opened the At-Promise Youth Center, a learning and community facility on English Avenue with specialized services for youth focused on education, workforce development, mental health, recreation and relationship-building for Westside residents.
“The At-Promise Center is creating an authentic family dynamic and support system for youth who participate in the program,” said Tolleson. “Police officers who help staff the facility daily feel a sense of pride in the relationships and mentoring they provide At-Promise youth.”
Like APF, WFF is focused on improving safety across Atlanta’s Historic Westside neighborhoods by decreasing violent crime and property vacancy. APF and WFF have partnered on several initiatives, including Westside Blue, Secure Neighborhoods, Operation Shield, as well as the At-Promise Youth Center.
“Since our partnership with the Atlanta Police Foundation began, the Westside has seen a 44 percent decrease in violent crimes each year, showing us that collaboration is the key,” said Cristel Williams, WFF Director of Development. “Partnerships with organizations like this are critical to ensuring our Westside neighborhoods are safe and our residents are protected.”
The Atlanta Police Foundation is a non-profit organization supported by the private sector, the philanthropic community and individuals whose goal is to make Atlanta the safest large city in the nation.