This is a story I did for MURL, Temple University’s senior journalism class. The assignment was to go out into your assigned neighborhood – in my case, Strawberry Mansion- and report on how the residents feel about Mayor Michael Nutter’s budget proposal. This was a team reporting project, but I was responsible for the written portion.
Eric Jones* is almost 3 years old. His age is painfully apparent as his faulty legs struggle to carry him up the jungle gym beneath the weight of his puffy coat and snow cap. Eric spends his days the same way he has since he was 7 months old – in the care of Phyllis Fultz and Roslyn Fulton, who run the Urban Pioneers daycare on French and 31st streets near Ridge Avenue in Strawberry Mansion.
Eric – along with his five playmates – embodies childhood innocence, right down to the runny nose his caretakers attribute to the change in seasons. What Eric doesn’t know as he clasps the hands of a girl around his age, guiding her up the sliding board at Mander Playground at 33rd and Diamond streets in Fairmount Park, is that the odds are stacked against him. His race, socioeconomic status, neighborhood and infrequent contact with his father are designed to hold Eric back in life. These factors will work against him in every stage of his life until he either rises above or succumbs to them, becoming another statistic in Philadelphia’s records.
Several people will influence Eric’s life and guide him along what they hope turns out to be the right path: his parents, his caregivers and Mayor Michael Nutter.
Continue reading for thoughts from daycare owners, school teachers and nonprofit organizations. Continue reading Strawberry Mansion organizations want more from Nutter’s budget