Park Stories: West Chatham PAC
This week, we welcomed Kimm Danzie, President of the West Chatham Park Advisory Council, to sit down and talk about her goals for her new PAC.
Kimm Danzie grew up in the neighborhood, and became interested in working with West Chatham PAC after being involved in the West Chatham Improvement Association. The Association was planning a celebration and Kimm found out that the West Chatham PAC was inactive. Since she has five children that use the park regularly, Kimm decided to get in contact with the Chicago Park District and reform the PAC.
The first goal of the new PAC was to address the needs of their community. West Chatham Park had seen some violence and vandalism, and the PAC turned to the local CAPS office to learn more. A deeper look into neighborhood resources revealed a limited amount of programs available to teenagers ages 13-17. Members of the PAC believed that teenagers may be turning to unsafe activities because of the lack of engagement. Therefore, one of the main focuses of the PAC will be to engage this specific group with events and sports teams. Kimm hopes to form a teen program as well as a basketball league this summer.
The PAC has already hosted successful events that align with their goals. In January, they hosted a Game Play Daywhere they brought in a variety of games and food. The event engaged approximately 20 young people for a day of game play, which included checkers, chess, Connect-4, dominoes, jacks, pool and Uno. The event ended with a game of basketball.
“We need to create a safe space for our children again” Kimm says. “We had the village when we were young, and now it’s time for us adults to be that village for our young ones”.
Looking to the Future
Kimm says her secret to success is listening to other PAC members and the community. She says an important part about being involved in a PAC is making sure that the decisions you make come from the community’s standpoint, not your own. The PAC is hoping to engage local police and other community groups in future events to make sure everyone feels connected.
West Chatham PAC is excited to implement programs in the park that create a safe environment. The PAC is planning a peace event for June, where they hope to get the community out in the park, bring in delicious food, and meet new neighbors. Kimm says, "We want to put unity into the community."
Kimm is also planning on attending the Chicago Parks Foundation’s Annual Park Advisory Council Conference on February 25th. She’s looking forward to getting information about how to deal with violence in the park and how to implement new programs to address this issue.