In Brownsville’s Howard Houses on Friday afternoon, Central Brooklyn State Senator Jesse Hamilton brought together community leaders, elected officials, students, teachers, and principles to announce for a conference on The Campus, the country’s first technology and wellness hub located in a public housing project. The Campus, spearheaded by the Senator, is an initiative designed to create computer literacy for students age 12-18 as well as provide a center for the students’ wellbeing and health.
“I know firsthand some of the challenges these young people are facing because I grew up in public housing in New York and will always be a champion for the residents of NYCHA. Their experience is my experience. It is incumbent upon me to pass that focus on education and wellness on to the children of all the neighborhoods I represent – give them the opportunities, resources, and support that every child in New York deserves,” said Hamilton.
“As a community we must take advantage of the remarkable talent our young people possess by investing in them and their future. We must send a clear message that we believe in you, your ideas, your contributions and the great perspective you will add to our city and our state,” he added.
Brownsville Assemblymember Latrice Walker, with tears in her eyes, exclaimed that “This is an important step that we have to make collectively so that we are bringing our communities, our children, and our families to the next generation. Everyone else is doing it so why can’t ours? It doesn’t have to be all about the violence that personifies this neighborhood. And we tell our children and young people all of the time no, don’t do this, say no to that, don’t go there, don’t engage in this, and we never give them anything to say yes to. We are always telling our children no, and we are never giving them anything to say yes to.”
During the conference, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams unveiled a surprise commitment of $500,000 to “the campus,” which was met with raucous and excited applause from the audience. Also speaking in support of the campus were Brownsville City Council Member Darlene Mealy, the VP for community operations at NYCHA, the director of Brooklyn Community Justice Centers and the Executive Director for Families on the move, among others.
Tyreek Johnson, a student from P.S. 298, 85 Watkins Street, said that the campus will keep a lot of kids out of trouble, and stop them from doing certain things, like killing and doing drugs. “I think this is really something that the community needs. We can get more out of life,” he said.
Hilary Ruiz, a teacher a P.S. 298 praised The Campus initiative. “I think anything positive in this environment is a good thing. I’ve been working in this community and its all negative: Expectations are negative, and a lot of times, our children aren’t used to receiving anything they can use for the future. So, any positive expectation is good and encouraging,” Ruiz said.
The Campus is set to open this fall in Brownsville’s Howard Houses.