On Evanston’s timetable, summer starts this weekend. The beaches will open, and there will be Memorial Day observations and celebrations.
Of course, meteorological summer starts on June 1, and astronomical summer, June 20, and our plants and flowers tell us that summer has already begun.
But we live in Evanston, and summer kicks off on Memorial Day, with art festivals, starlight concerts, block parties, the Fourth of July parade and dancing in a downtown plaza.
Balmy weather, long days and leisure time hold promises and temptation, particularly for our youth. But that gap can be dangerous. Kids and young adults without a structure to their day can be enticed into activities that pose a danger to others and to their own futures.
The City has taken some measures to fill the gap and keep our youth from being at loose ends: The Summer Youth Employment Program, a collaborative program with the City and local businesses, has found secured jobs for about two hundred youth. Together with School Districts 65 and 202, they have come up with about 75 programs for Evanston’s youth. Most of these are free, and many of them extend into evening hours so kids will have structure during those twilight hours of temptation and still be home by curfew.
We applaud the City and the school districts for their stepped-up focus on youth, which began last year after several terrible months of youth violence.
These measures are a good first step in addressing the problems of gangs, drugs and guns, which seem to be the stepchildren of poverty, unemployment, lack of education and the anger and frustration they engender. We can all chip in as well by looking out for kids as best we can – hiring them, mentoring them, offering counsel when possible.
Minding our youth can be the most important task of the summer.