Mayor Jackson Announces Plan to Address Youth Violence as a Public Health Issue in City of Cleveland

Mayor Frank G. Jackson today announced a new strategic plan from his office of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults (PIOYY). The plan focuses on addressing youth violence as a public health issue and highlights collaborative efforts from dozens of community partners.

“This plan is another tool in our efforts to combat crime, in particular, violent crime,” said Mayor Jackson. “It is supported by several departments and external partners who understand the public health model will aid us as we build safer communities. It is directly linked to my Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative and one of the many things the City of Cleveland is doing to stop the decline, stabilize our neighborhoods, and position them for the future.”

Led by Chief Duane Deskins, the PIOYY office aligns city resources and creates community collaboration to reduce youth violence. PIOYY has planned multiple programs to address violence as a public health issue, and is made possible by the mayor’s enhanced budget and Issue 32. Specifically, the plan examines the decades-long effects of structural violence and toxic stress on youth and young adults. It also touches on steps the city has recently taken to address the issue and outlines a plan for how to move forward to sustain the city’s progress.

“This strategic plan relies on a public health model, which is the only model designed to achieve healthier neighborhoods and a safer city,” said Chief Deskins, Mayor’s Office of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults. “This strategy, by definition, focuses on preventing violence before it occurs.”

Using a public health approach, each youth initiative includes meaningful activity and fosters skills necessary for a success in the workforce, school, home and community. To create the plan, the city connected with local health officials, including professionals from Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and the MetroHealth system. View video from health officials.

Since launching the office in January 2017, Mayor Jackson and Chief Deskins have introduced several pieces of legislation to support its efforts. They have also implemented new programs to provide increased opportunity for youth. The program is widely supported by more than 30 partners: the Cleveland Foundation, Case Western Reserve University, Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U), MetroHealth System, Cleveland Public Theatre, Cuyahoga Community College and more. View partial list of partners.

Over the past year, the PIOYY office launched – in conjunction with other city departments and community partners – a series of new programming to address the issue of youth violence. This includes extended summer hours at various recreation centers, new classes such as ballet, yoga, theatre, photography and chess for youth, leadership and development trainings, an award-winning ice cream truck staffed by Cleveland Division of Police and more.

Here are a few notable achievements since the office’s inception:

  • Approximately 15,000 youth enjoyed the city’s recreation center hours
  • 13,322 youth engaged with the ice cream truck while it visited parks and pools this past summer
  • About 2,766 youth were given summer employment
  • Around 1,300 people attended the Mayor’s Job Match Week events

In May 2017 Mayor Jackson announced his Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, which aims to stabilize neighborhoods, stop decline and ensure growth for the future. PIOYY will continue to expand its programs and address violence in the City as a public health crisis solved through a holistic, strategic approach.

Click here to read the plan.