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Talk in Milwaukee of Creating a 'Children's Zone' to Surround Kids with Support

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There's talk in Milwaukee to create a "children's zone." It would be a designated area to surround kids with services to improve their lives.

The model comes from New York. ears ago an educator named Geoffrey Canada started the Harlem Children’s Zone.

Now, Milwaukee's Youth Council is talking about doing the same here.

Canada designated a 97-block area where kids were not succeeding and filled it with programs to serve them form birth through college.

Services include everything from health care to extra-curricular activities and mention safe havens to guard them from the violence ever-present in their lives.

“We created the zone, because we felt that our children in Harlem were really getting the raw end of the deal. Children in Harlem had been failing by just staggering numbers for over 40 years, and people had decided there was nothing you could do," Canada said.

He has said that when kids must focus on daily survival, rather than on doing well in school, they don't have the same opportunity as young people in other communities to succeed and maximize their potential.

In comments over the years, Canada has said workers and volunteers in the zone consider all the kids - their kids. "And guess what? It works," he said.

Canada admits the program is not cheap. It spends several thousand dollars on each child - and there are tens of thousands, but he says the payoff is much more rewarding than spending millions on incarcerating adult residents.

"We can ensure that our children graduate high school, go into college and get degrees and come back to their neighborhoods prepared to be full, productive citizens," Canada said.

Canada has questioned how the U.S. can remain a great country - even 25 years from now, if it doesn't make sure its black and brown children are prepared to be productive, contributing citizens. "This is the most important piece of business we have in America," he said.

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