As part of the ongoing Sunnyside Gang Initiative, the Sunnyside's Promise board yesterday, Thursday, discussed a grant application for a mentoring program.
Deputy Police Chief Phil Schenck said the program involves up to a total of 60 fifth and sixth grade students who are individually paired with an adult mentor.
Schenck said there is a need for the program because schools are seeing a 350 percent increase in gang disciplinary referrals between sixth and seventh grades.
As part of the program the students selected will each receive a cell phone. For every meeting they attend the students receive a card representing 25 minutes for cell phone use.
As an incentive to stay with the program through both fifth and sixth grades, students who successfully complete the two years receive an i-Pod Touch.
Schenck said the most expensive part of the program - and the primary need for the grant money - is hiring someone to oversee the effort. With up to 60 mentors needed, he said the program will require a full-time director to make sure the students are paired with suitable adults.
Sunnyside's Promise should learn this September if the grant application was successful.
In other items yesterday, a bike repair program is gearing up, with 50 or 60 bicycles in stock. Dan White is working with the bike repair program, and explained that students who complete 10-hours of bike repair will get to keep the bike they've worked on.
White said the program will teach students some mechanical skills as well as bicycle safety.
He told the board there is a need for more bikes because the hope is to have the current inventory used up within three months.
The bike repair program is using space donated by the Sunnyside Grace Brethren Church. Helmets and headlights have also been donated for the cause.
Besides needing more bikes, the board learned that funds are needed to purchase a clear coat application for murals that have been painted around town. If the murals are hit with graffiti, the clear coat makes it easy to remove it from the murals.
Lisa Fairbairn told the board that it costs $118 for each gallon of the clear coat. Since no funds are available for purchasing the product, a suggestion was made to have individual businesses sponsor each mural.
To donate a bike or funds for the clear coat application, contact Fairbairn at 836-8417.
Also yesterday, Sunnyside's Promise announced that the "Movie in the Park" program kicks off on Friday, Aug. 7, in Central Park. The outdoor family film event starts at dusk, around 9 p.m. Concessions will be available, but families are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and/or blankets.
Fairbairn said she hopes Sunnyside's Promise can hold a movie in the park each Friday evening in August. To do that, she said corporate sponsorship will be needed as it costs $300 to $350 to obtain the licensing rights for each film.