Safe Passage program expands for the summer

CHICAGO -- As Chicago struggles with another violent summer, city officials are expanding a program designed to keep kids safe as they walk to parks and sports activities the next few weeks.

The Summer Safe Passage program will serve neighborhoods in high-crime areas on the West and South sides.

Experts trained nearly 170 adults in de-escalating tense situations, building relationships and improving safety.  They will be stationed along routes to 31 Chicago parks this summer, so that about 3,000 kids can get to and from their summer activities safely.

Part of the training included all safe passage workers speaking to each other and engaging with a positive comment.  It is something organizers say they’ll need to do every day as they monitor safe passage routes.  Those few words can be the foundation of a relationship, which officials say is critical to safety in violent neighborhoods.

Safe Passage workers will make the $11 minimum wage for the hours they work as monitors along their routes a cost of about $280,000 dollars paid for by the park district.

But many of the safe passage participants see the work as an investment in their own neighborhoods.

The Summer Safe Passage program builds on the school-year program that protects students who walk through troubled neighborhoods on their way to school.

The Safe Passage workers will be out four days a week this summer where at designated parks where teen sports leagues are held.  It starts July 11 and runs through mid-August.