Councilman Kenyatta Johnson has attempted to make real his promise to serve the residents of Southwest Philadelphia by hosting a cleanup of a playground at the 2100 block of Yocum Street on Saturday, April 21.
Along with community residents and organizers, about 40 volunteers were equipped with brooms, rakes and trash bags and proceeded to cut the grass, clean up debris and otherwise improve conditions of the playground so that children will have a safe place to play.
“I’m out here today with the residents of the Residence off Paschall (ROP) organization participating in their community cleanup day,” Johnson said. “We’re actually revitalizing this playground for the neighborhood.”
Since being seated on city council, Johnson has organized several events and initiatives designed to improve the quality of life for residents of Southwest Philadelphia.
“This is all a part of my effort to represent the 2nd Council manic district as a whole,” said Johnson who resides in South Philadelphia. “I always call Southwest Philadelphia my second home and I am making sure that their issues and concerns are addressed.”
Earlier in the year Johnson held a budget hearing at a Southwest Philadelphia church which, some say was the first budget hearing ever held outside of city council.
“We brought the members of city council to St. Johns A.M.E. Church so the residents of Southwest could have an opportunity to provide input on our upcoming council budget,” Johnson said.
There was also the tour of the Woodland Ave. Business district during which he, along with Sen. Anthony H. Williams and other community stakeholders, walked along Woodland Avenue, stopping in stores to meet and greet the business owners and discuss their concerns.
This tour concluded with a meet and greet held at the 12th Police District at 65th Woodland Ave. where the Councilman took the opportunity to hear residents speak about their concerns.
According to some residents, this was never done when his predecessor, Anne Verna, was in office.
Asked about his transition from state representative to city councilman, Johnson appeared to have little if any difficulty making the change.
“The position may change but the mission remains the same,” he said. “It’s all about helping people. I enjoyed being a hands-on state representative and I love the city of Philadelphia and so for me this is a great opportunity for me to come home, where I’m from, to address the issues and concerns of people’s day to day needs.”
The President of the Residents of Paschall (ROP), Tyrice Gibson, said the clean up was part of a larger plan for the community and its children.
“We are basically trying to show that the kids out here needs services and to let the councilman see what we need,” he said. “Its basically a clean up to let the people know that we have a councilman on hand with us and he is out here willing to get his hands dirty.”
And, according to Gibson, the clean up of the playground was very much needed.
“We are going to pull our resources together and clean up this playground since the children have nowhere safe to play,” he said.