CHICAGO, April 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Hyde Park Neighborhood Club (HPNC) provides an example of how engaged individuals can sustain communities through long lasting stability.
Established in 1909 as the Hyde Park branch of the Juvenile Protective League to keep "neglected" children off the streets, the HPNC, one of the oldest independent neighborhood centers, has been continuously servicing Hyde Park and its surrounding areas for over one hundred years. It has survived two wars, the great depression and now the latest recession.
Today, as in the early 20th century, children of all ages come to the HPNC after school to enjoy fun, creative and educational activities during out-of-school time in a warm and safe environment.
In the Settlement House tradition of improving living conditions in city neighborhoods, the HPNC has designed its programs through the years to fit the needs of a changing community: from a community of European immigrants with neglected youth and no playgrounds (circa 1908), to servicing the newcomers from the Great Migration, to servicing a growing University of Chicago staff and their families. The HPNC has been a stabilizing influence in a racially, ethnically and economically diverse community.
In 1942 it provided shelter to more than 200 people after a devastating fire in the community.
Businessmen in the twenties used to have meetings there, and classes such as sewing, cooking and drama for girls and debating and stamp clubs and sports activities for boys were also offered. There was a free kindergarten. In addition, the HPNC had Polite Manners, Happy Hearts and Dolls Clubs. Most recently the HPNC was the host of a number of activities for seniors, but those were phased out as the demand for children's services grew and it became necessary to go back to the original mission.
The Tot Lot, an indoor playground for toddlers, now in its 58th year, is planning to kick-off a "Tot Lot Generations" interactive historical exhibit on May 1st in conjunction with HPNC's annual Pancake Breakfast—during previous years, as many as 1,000 people have attended the Breakfast, including President Barack Obama, State Senator Kwame Raoul, State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and Aldermen Leslie Hairston, among others.
The HPNC now offers a program for children up to 5 and their parents and caretakers where they enjoy fun activities appropriate for early childhood development.
As it has been for over a century, the HPNC works in partnership with schools, grant providers and the community at large to identify and meet children's needs with innovative, age-appropriate educational programs. The staff is always looking for new methods to provide the best youth programs in a professional and caring manner.
Today, the HPNC is trying to help modern families with two working parents who have difficult schedules by offering comprehensive youth programs that promote children's overall wellbeing, all available in a single location. Furthermore, modern technology and a new inter-generational programs bring a new 21st Century approach.
Hyde Park's diversity arises from its origin as a well to do suburb, with a later influx of European working class people and African Americans from the Great Migration, and the presence of the University of Chicago. As a result, participants in the programs, come from diverse backgrounds helping children learn to relate positively to people of differing backgrounds.
For more information, visit 5480 South Kenwood Ave. www.hpnclub.org or call 773-643-4062.
SOURCE Hyde Park Neighborhood Club