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It was a recent chilly December afternoon when four middle schoolers met up with the CRT Graffiti Abatement team and LISC at 26th and Indiana in Kansas City, Missouri for an experiential field trip on graffiti abatement. The students and their teacher, Rachel Hand, are part of the Jobs for America's Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K), a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that partners with students facing multiple barriers to success, at Turner Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas. The students are wrapping up their Art+Social Justice project to explore how art can influence and promote social justice. Two of the students chose to focus their art project on graffiti abatement after seeing articles on the CRT project online.
The CRT Graffiti Abatement team was represented by Marlon Hammons, President of Washington Wheatley Neighborhood Association and team foreman for the CRT Graffiti Abatement project, Ryan Samuelson, Community Initiatives Specialist for KC Police Department's Strategies for Policing Innovation, and Amanda Wilson, Program Officer with LISC. The team first walked the students through an interactive discussion on graffiti and tagging, pointing out that graffiti is not street art and taggers do not have the permission of the building owners. They then went on to discuss how the students feel when they see graffiti, what message graffiti it sends to them, and the good work that is happening in this community even when there is graffiti present.
The CRT Graffiti Abatement team anticipates beginning the graffiti abatement pilot project in early spring 2018 along Prospect Avenue. This year-long effort is funded by the City of Kansas City, Missouri's Neighborhood and Housing Department and will measure the effectiveness of the program’s abatement efforts compared to a control area without abatement.
The JAG-K program uses competency-based JAG National Curriculum to provide group instruction. The curriculum emphasizes graduating from high school and helps to prepare students for post-secondary education or entering the workforce directly through leadership activities, Project-Based Learning, guest speakers, field trips, college visits, job skills training, social-emotional learning, and community service. JAG-K is seeking volunteer opportunities and job shadows opportunities for their students. To learn more about the JAG-K program in Kansas visit www.jagkansas.org or contact Rachel Hand, JAG-K Specialist, at Rachel.Hand@jagkansas.org or 913-288-4062. For information about the JAG-MO program in Missouri contact Paul Kincaid at firstname.lastname@example.org or 417-425-5139.