Keeping Kids ‘Out of Violence’ – Summer Youth Program by San Francisco Public Defender’s Office Celebrates 20 Years of Community Engagement

PC: Daniel Lawrence Lu
Via Wikimedia Commons

By Enola Gueta and Helen Shamamyan

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza this week, the SF Public Defender Office’s MAGIC programs hosted a Summer Kickoff event for various youth groups within the Mo’ MAGIC Collaborative.

According to a SF PD statement, more than 500 youth and staff were presented with summer reading gifts, bounce houses, and food trucks to celebrate, creating a community among various youth groups and “exposing them to STEM, art, literacy, and recreational activities.”

San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju said, “Kicking off summer with a day of fun and community-building is an important way to show San Francisco youth and families that their lives and academic success matter to all of us.”

Brittany Ford, executive director of the MAGIC programs, praised one of the organization’s “largest annual events,” supporting “Civic Center Plaza and the steps of City Hall filled with local youth building friendships in the community.”

Sheryl Davis, executive director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and founding Director of Mo’ MAGIC, recognized summer as “a critical time for making educational gains, as summer learning loss can erase months, if not years, of student achievement.”

Dr. Marie Sue, executive director of the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, and their Families (DCYF,) emphasized the importance of summer programming in youth engagement in the city, noting the department has been funding summer programs across the city for “30 years,” one most notably being by the Public Defender’s Office.

According to the Office of the Public Defender, the MAGIC (Mobilization for Adolescent Growth In our Communities) Program was started in 2004 by late public defender, Jeff Adachi. It expanded to Mo’ Magic in the Fillmore Western Addition in 2006.

The stated purpose of programs like these is to create opportunities for youth to learn and engage with others their age during the summer months, said the PD.

SF Mayor London Breed emphasized how programs like this also help “keep them out of violence” and “delivers joy straight to students and the resources they need.”

This attempt, said the PD Office, is reflected in the original mission of the late Adachi, who aimed to keep youth out of the school-to-prison pipeline—for the last 20 years, giving students a safe space and educational opportunities across the city.

Jame Spingola spoke as the Director of Collective Impact, which facilitates the provision of services and creating opportunities for kids throughout the year, stating, “This work doesn’t happen without the hard work of all the organizations that have been a part of the magic over the years.”

About The Author

Enola Gueta is fourth year at the University of California Davis, majoring in Political Science and American Studies currently working on her thesis. She has interned at the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration in Washington D.C., taught a Law and Social Movements class to high schoolers in Wellesley Massachusetts, and is a board member of a Latine Pre-Law Association at UC Davis. She also works at a coffee shop and loves making and recommending drinks to her friends. At the Vanguard she's looking to expand her writing skills and be able to get a closer look at the law at work to eventually work in human rights law in the future.

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