Members of ACTION United held a rally in March at Andrew Hamilton School calling for safety improvements in and around the West Philadelphia elementary.
Residents who live near the school have complained about litter, trespassing, and drug activity in the schoolyard during the night and on weekends.
Members of the West Philadelphia chapter of the organization, a mix of residents, parents, and students, are asking for more lighting to be installed around the school, an increased security presence, more street lights, and better fencing on one side of the property.
“I live in the area. It is concerning to me that our children are coming to school and their schoolyards are not safe,” said Chinara Bilaal, an ACTION United member and mother of four.
“We saw debris, drug paraphernalia, bottles, cans, and just trash. It’s apparent to me that somebody is not doing their job as far as keeping the schoolyards clean for our kids. It’s been happening to us for quite some time now.”
The school has a dark corridor on one side, which residents said encourages illicit activity in the schoolyard. Additionally, broken glass in the schoolyard is a critical safety issue because the play area is all concrete.
“Our children are our future … we have to make sure that they are safe,” Bilaal said.
ACTION United members are now calling on greater political accountability to help get things done. The organization has brought the schoolyard safety issue to the Philadelphia Streets Department and hopes to engage Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and the city’s Licenses and Inspections Department in the conversation. Members recently held a walking tour of the area surrounding the school so that concerned community members could see the conditions.
ACTION United member Henry Turner said he is optimistic about the school safety campaign.
“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get this thing moving [but] we want to take the issues to the proper people,” Turner said.
“We believe in people who want the best for our schools.”