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Editorial:

Recognition shows city serves its kids well

February 02, 2008

Congratulations are in order for Burbank, which America’s Promise Alliance — a nationwide nonprofit coalition that includes businesses, elected leaders, educators and faith groups — named among the top 100 cities in the nation for young people.

In the end, though, the honor wasn’t all that surprising.

Burbank has always been a great place to be young.

Burbank, after all, is the place where Mickey Mouse became a powerhouse — making the city a worldwide hub that has helped define youth culture.

But what should be so gratifying about this recognition for people in Burbank is that it is not Mickey Mouse that defines life for young people here. It is parks, schools, a low crime rate, shopping and sporting and eating spots that make this city a vibrant place for anyone.

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It’s a growing city that so far — even as the entertainment titans have grown — has managed to preserve a little bit of that down-home Americana we all wish children can grow up in.

Here, that kind of atmosphere still exists, and it promotes the five “promises” that the alliance believes all residents should experience: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to give service.

But the ability to make the city a good place for youth is not necessarily an accomplishment that comes naturally. People work at it here. They invest in it, whether that ability comes in the form of safe places for children after school; healthcare options; or even city ordinances, like the smoking ban, which make the city’s air healthier for children.

As the alliance pointed out, in communities that are good for youth, people don’t just leave it up to the schools to define life for the young.

Young people have options.

There are theater programs, youth counseling, conflict resolution and mentoring programs; opportunities to look at career paths in a wide range of industries, whether they are at the Police Department or at the biggest entertainment studios in the world, which are just down the block. Or, if they just want to hang out at a park, young people have that option, too. It’s all in young people’s backyard here.

They have those options because people work on maintaining and creating them.

An understanding exists in this city that the future can only be as good as the path laid down for its young people in the present.

The honor affirms that those paths are being forged in Burbank, and it is a reminder that each generation plays a role in leading the way.

City leaders are doing it, entertainment industry leaders are, and so are police, firefighters, teachers, librarians and all others who set a good example for young people every day when they go to work.

They deserve a pat on the back for the honor too, because they are forging the path.

But as City Manager Mary Alvord said, more can be done to continue making Burbank a good place to be for young people.

She’s right. There’s always more to be done, and Burbank’s a great place to do it, young, old or in between.


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