OPINION: The then and now of City Heights

When many folks think about City Heights, they often think about it in a bad light. City Heights is often categorized as ghetto, but not everyone knows the true story of City Heights’ transformation and the positive impact it now has on families and children because of new youth programs. Y-Tip and Mid-City CAN are but two examples.

“I honestly wish these programs existed when I was a kid,” said Dale Silva, who graduated from Hoover High School in 1985.

Silva remembers when the Mid City Police Station on Fairmount Avenue and Landis Street was home to a Vons grocery store. And he recalls when Pearson Ford stood at the site of the new YMCA on El Cajon Boulevard. And several elementary schools in the neighborhood didn’t even exist.

Back then, a large number of youths felt like they had to know how to fight to survive; many ended up joining gangs or were under bad influences. That is no longer the case.

Y-Tip allows high school students to receive a free YMCA membership in exchange for meeting a few requirements. These include maintaining a minimum GPA and completing community service hours with the YMCA. Mid-City CAN is a youth advocacy program that allows high school students’ voices to be heard within the community. Its main focus is to allow the youths in City Heights to create new opportunities for themselves and for generations to come.

“Mid-City CAN is a place you can call home, develop friendships that last and help your community become better for generations to come,” said Terry Stanley, a Mid-City CAN youth organizer.

To get involved with Y-Tip, go to the front office of the new YMCA located on 43rd Street and El Cajon Boulevard and ask about the program. To join Mid-City CAN, go to the Price Charities building located on Fairmount and University and take the elevator to the fifth floor. Hopefully in 10 years, all the youths in our community will be taking part not only in these wonderful programs, but in new ventures aimed at continually improving our great neighborhood.

Denise Becerra is participating in the University of San Diego Journalism Mentorship Program which pairs high school students with college journalism majors attending USD.