Spanish Lake Youth Task Force

Working Together to Improve Opportunities for Spanish Lake Youth

Our Spanish Lake Community is a beautiful, historic and diverse place which over the last decade has undergone a dramatic shift in population. Its many strengths include its sites of awesome natural beauty, long-term residents with strong ties to the area, families committed to the education and safety of their children, a strong community association which advocates for our interest, many places of worship and a County government committed to working with residents to stabilize and enhance the quality of life.

In order to address some of the challenges which have arisen over the last decade, St. Louis County completed an assessment of the needs of Spanish Lake youth. The Spanish Lake Youth Task Force was established in April 2007 as a mechanism for residents of Spanish Lake to work for an eighteen- month period with St. Louis County Government to implement the recommendations in this report. The needs assessment reported an increasing youth population, dramatic increase in single parent households and a significant percentage of youth and families living in poverty.
The prominent issues identified as impacting youth were:

  • the absence of structured activities
  • inadequate supervision of children
  • prevalence of violence and crime
  • a high rate of births to teens
  • inadequate public and private transportation
  • limited community cohesion
  • lack of safe sidewalks and inadequate street lighting

St. Louis County responded by establishing the following priorities:

  • Increase opportunities for youth to participate in supervised activities after school
  • Increase summer and weekend activities for youth and families
  • Increase community-policing services
  • Target youth and family services at the Oak Park and Countryside Apartment Complexes
  • Provide programs to reduce school dropout; increase enrollment in job training and continuing education; and reduce risk factors for teen pregnancy.

    Task Force members have worked hand-in-hand with County staff in developing programs and activities. It should be noted that some activities were in progress prior to the completion of the study based on input from the Spanish Lake Community Association. An example is the sidewalks on Larimore Road. Other examples of progress on the priorities are:

  • Revision of program at the North County Recreation Center
  • The addition of new basketball courts at Larimore and Spanish Lake Parks
  • Work with Hazelwood School District to bring the services of an area Boys and Girls Club base at Southeast Middle School
  • Work with Hazelwood School District and Oak Park Apartments to start Teen Outreach Program designed to give youth life skills which will help them avoid negative, harmful behaviors.
  • Convened area service providers to share information on Spanish Lake and enlist their support

    While plans for 2008 are incomplete, the Task Force intends to partner with the Spanish Lake Community Association, Hazelwood School District and others to hold another Youth Resource Fair. Last year’s fair was attended by over 100 families with many vendors participating. We will also continue efforts to engage parents in locating and helping their children access healthy after school and summer programs. Finally the task force will lead an effort to develop a sustainable, practical plan to address the shortage of accessible recreational activities for children and youth in Spanish Lake.

    In its mission the task force says that it will facilitate the development and sustainability of a comprehensive community response to increase resources that youth need in order to become responsible adults. Obviously this is a pipe dream if only a few people are engaged. You are invited to join us, share your ideas, and work on a committee. For more information e-mail us or call our Voice Mail at 314-741-4100.

    If not us, who? If not now, when?