Central Opportunity for Purposeful Engagement (C.O.P.E.) trains peer leaders

Central Opportunity for Purposeful Engagement (COPE)-bf6422e3

By Dawn Glasco

Central Opportunity for Purposeful Engagement (C.O.P.E.) is a summer leadership camp for youth, aged 15-19, and led by Central Promise Neighborhood Ambassadors to train the next generation of peer leaders in the Central community in Cleveland, Ohio. This Camp responds to the traumatic effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of residents in Central. C.O.P.E. offers a safe and supportive space to conduct community engagement through creative art expression, suicide prevention training, health, fitness and wellness, and gardening.

CIPTT, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) public charity that runs an intergenerational urban garden at E. 39th Street and Community College Avenue that grows produce to help residents with chronic illness, sponsors community art programs, and hosts public art exhibits. Dawn Glasco, Community Engagement Specialist for Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, is organizing this program. The garden will host the following sponsored programs:

1) Create Art Not Violence, run by Promise Ambassador Walter Patton, where art therapy and videography are used for constructive engagement, creativity, and self-expression to support social and emotional development. Each participant will identify a theme of interest to create poetry, rap, and art as a form of purposeful expression.

2) Kings & Queens of Art, run by Promise Ambassador Gwen Garth, where art is merged with activism to promote community leadership and become change agents in civic engagement, community building, and healing. Each participating youth will produce a 12″ x 12″ panel of hand word art using paint and mosaic tiles on canvas, which is then mounted on Hardee board.

3) Sources of Strength (S.O.S.), in partnership with Promise Ambassador Kareemah Rose, offers suicide prevention training for peer leaders that help youth spread messages of Hope, Help, and Strength using social media, art, drama, and video presentations.

4) Men and Women of Central, run by Promise Ambassadors Charmaine Jordan and Jerome Baker, promotes community empowerment, health and wellness, and personal growth by sponsoring health walks and screenings. They will organize a community walk and wellness day on August 7 from 8:30-11:30 a.m., where residents will walk from the E. 39th St garden to and around the Tri-C track. Health and wellness screenings, vendors providing sample massages, cooking, and stress tests will be available, as well as fresh produce free of charge.

5) Natural Investments (NI) run by Promise Ambassador Demetrius Carter, employs youth for landscaping and lawn maintenance in the Central area to teach the importance of teamwork, gratitude, and determination. NI will maintain the E. 39th Street garden site in partnership with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress’s Clean & Green Truck.

Neighborhood partners include Burten, Bell & Carr Development, Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.), MyCom, OSU Summer Sprout Program, Central residents, Sisters of Charity Foundation, IOBY, Resilient Youth, Men and Women of Central, Inc., Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and CIPTT, Inc.