Young and persistent, they’re getting things done in Camden


Photo by Luis Valdez

fatherjud-webFather Jud Weiksnar, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Camden, speaks with Cianie Yambo, a sixth grade student at the parish school, during a meeting with city and county officials in the Von Nieda Community Center on Friday, Feb. 17.

CAMDEN — A few youngsters from St. Anthony of Padua School met with City Hall to let officials know what they wanted to be done in Cramer Hill. And the city fathers are complying.

“They didn’t fight city hall,” said Father Jud Weiksnar, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parsh. “They got things done by meeting regularly with officials. You can get a lot more done through constructive civic engagement than by complaining.”

A committee of six students — two each from the sixth, seventh and eighth grades – was involved in community organizing around issues in Von Nieda Park in Cramer Hill. Five of the students recently met with city and county officials in the Von Nieda Community Center. Although city workers were painting over the graffiti on the building as they met, the students reminded officials that a clean wall would invite more graffiti. The students suggested a mural be painted.

“A mural will be placed on the building, probably in the summer,” said Father Weiksnar. “The students will be doing the art work along with the art teachers from the school and a friar.” Funding is being explored, he added.

The city also repaired and repainted the benches in the park. The students noted that art work should be an integral part of the benches’ refurbishing to cut back on any graffiti. Art work will be put on the benches in either the spring or summer, Father Weiksnar said.

He explained that on March 23 the students will present what they are doing during the Romero Lecture workshop held each year at Rutgers-Camden.

Although only six students are now involved, the pastor explained that this initiative will be opened to more students at the school as part of an after-school program.

The students had also asked about a summer celebration in the park. As a result, a celebration of public safety issues has been scheduled for May 14 along with the annual Cramer Hill Community Day planned for the summer.

Another meeting with city and county officials is slated for March 9.