On days like this, as I sit in my office and listen to the laughter of the students at Orange Center Elementary, I’m reminded of the research of Justin Wolfers which shows that “growing up in a good neighborhood has immensely positive effects on future success.”
After talking to the new families who moved into the Pendana at West Lakes Apartments and seeing looks of joy on the faces of children moving into their new surroundings, I’m excited about what’s happening for children in this neighborhood. Conservative estimates predict that between 150-175 kids will be moving into the apartments. I’m certain that they will embrace their new home with childlike wonder.
Over 8,000 inquiries about availability at Pendana have been reported to date. That level of interest speaks to the value and need of this project and other research studies have shown, “the earlier a family moves to a good neighborhood, the better the children’s long-term outcomes.” West Lakes is that type of neighborhood for children. The simple fact is, that kids pick up cues about how to act far more from the collective influence of friends, siblings, elders, teachers, TV, babysitters, and others than they do from their parents. It’s hardly a fair contest. Pendana and the proposed Boys & Girls Club will help to stack the cards in their favor.
The challenge for West Lakes Partnership, our partners and all the residents in the area, is to find ways to meet the needs of all constituencies from our youngest to our oldest.
When I meet with the elders of the communities of West Lakes, often eating dinner in their homes, the value of their profound talents and rich experiences are evident. I think of what a treat it must be to see revitalization like this happen after years of underinvestment. One senior reminded me, “our retirement years should be better than our work years.” The planned Health & Wellness Center will help bring that to the community.
As we consider future projects, it’s crucial to do all we can for our future Jones High School graduates. And for the elders, it is important to listen to their collective voices for programs that make their latter years better than their former years. Every effort must be made to acknowledge and celebrate the heritage they have nurtured in this wonderful community. Their wisdom, service and experience are essential in our mission to strengthen this village called West Lakes.
We are better together!