Round Rock ranks in top 100 Best Communities for Young PeopleIn January 2007, the City of Round Rock was selected in a national competition as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People.
Americaâ€™s Promise â€” The Alliance for Youth conducted the competition to honor communities across America for their commitment to provide healthy, safe and caring environments for young people. Round Rock was selected out of hundreds of communities in the U.S. and its territories.
Round Rock is one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People, in part, because students identified as the most at-risk for not graduating are encouraged to participate in the New Directionsâ€”New Horizons Program, where students learn valuable skills to assist them in life success. The students can study, visit diverse work environments, and improve their financial literacy. In addition, students tour corporations, businesses and college campuses, demonstrating the firm support of the Round Rock community.
â€śThis is an incredible achievement for Round Rock and our youth,â€ť said Nyle Maxwell, Mayor of Round Rock. â€śWe are fortunate to be home to an award winning school district, numerous corporate partners, an extended support system that includes the Round Rock Family YMCA and an involved city government and staff â€“all of whom are committed to creating an environment that nurtures and prepares our youth for adulthood.â€ť
â€śNothing is more important than seeing that our children and youth have the resources and support systems they need to thrive and succeed,â€ť said Americaâ€™s Promise Founding Chairman General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.). â€śWhen a community provides all that its young people need to be healthy and secure, they deserve to be honored and showcased as an outstanding example of what it takes to successfully nurture this nationâ€™s young people.â€ť
A community that is best for young people must have a strong education system. In cooperation with the City of Round Rock, Round Rock ISD submitted an application to be named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People.
â€śWe are committed to providing programs aimed at increasing student achievement,â€ť said Round Rock ISD Superintendent Dr. JesĂşs ChĂˇvez. â€śWe will do whatever it takes to ensure all children learn in our district.â€ť
â€śI think this award speaks volumes for our communityâ€™s support and I want to thank the school district for taking the time to capture these partnerships and apply for this award,â€ť said Mayor Maxwell.
The Best Communities competition evaluated communities based on the Five Promises of Americaâ€™s Promise. These Five Promises are the primary resources children need to thrive: caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others.
The community of Round Rock offers youth a variety of mentoring programs through the school district, El Amistad, Rotary and other non-profit organizations. The Round Rock ISD recently established the K.I.T. club to establish relationships between youth and the elderly.
The City of Round Rock Police Department offers the Police Explorers program to introduce youth to the police profession. The Department's D.A.R.E. program provides classes and mentoring programs on drug abuse, peer pressure and self-esteem. [Note: The City's D.A.R.E. program was discontinued in May 2011.] In 2006, the School Resource Officers received their teaching certificates and began teaching criminal justice classes at Round Rock ISD. [This program continued until May 2010.]
Our Parks and Recreation Department provides activity camps for children with disabilities and a babysitting certification class for teens.
Round Rock has been ranked as the safest city in Texas for two years in a row and the 13th safest city in the U.S., according to a national survey of crime statistics of cities with a population of 75,000 or more. The Police Department is committed to community policing and provides monthly neighborhood crime reports on the Cityâ€™s web site. The PD also sponsors National Night Out every year, an event which gives citizens a chance to meet their police officers and learn about safety and crime prevention. D.A.R.E. has classes on Internet safety and stranger danger.
Parks and Recreation provides afterschool programs with its Kids Clubhouse at the Clay Madsen Recreation Center. The Rec Center also offers summer camps and all-day camps on holidays and spring break. It provides swim lessons and advanced life-guard training. The Rec Center also offers two basketball courts, a game room, TV room and babysitting room.
The Round Rock Public Library offers teen programs and activities such as movie nights and classes. It also provides Internet access on computer workstations that are child safe and installed with filtering software.
The Round Rock Fire Department Rock Solid Safety Team boasts an exciting, imaginative program that teaches elementary children fire and life safety with clowns, puppets, music, magic and more. The Team performs at schools all around the community. In its skits, the Team teaches about matches/lighters as tools, not toys; what to do in a fire; checking smoke detectors; wearing helmets on bikes; and wearing seatbelts in vehicles. Since the Teamâ€™s inception, the department has tracked a significant decline in the instances of fires in the community attributed to children playing with matches.
A Healthy Start
The Mayorâ€™s Council on Fitness promotes physical activity and education to encourage families to lead healthy lives (Note: The program was discontinued in 2009).
The Cityâ€™s Five Year Capital Improvement Program includes plans to improve and increase family friendly parks and recreation sites.
The Parks and Recreation Department offers athletic classes for youths at Clay Madsen Recreation Center, Lake Creek swimming pool, and Forest Creek Golf Club. Classes include tennis, golf, swimming, martial arts, dance, gymnastics, athletic leagues, and sports camps. The Rec Center also offers nutritional classes and cooking classes. The Recreation Center will soon open a new skate park.
Only 13 percent of Round Rock residents are without health insurance, significantly lower than the state average of 28.5 percent.
The Round Rock ISD has more than 85 percent of its graduating seniors take the SAT and ACT college entrance exams and their scores are well above state and national averages. The average student to teacher ratio is 15 to 1. Every campus is computer accessible and provides computer access to students.
The Round Rock Public Library has an excellent childrenâ€™s department with storytime reading programs for all ages, even babies. Its Summertime Reading Program encourages children to read even out of school with book counting and prizes. The Round Rock Libraryâ€™s Summertime Reading Program is one of the few in the area that allows adults to participate as well so families can read together. The Libraryâ€™s web site offers reading lists and web sites just for kids. The Library also has classes and programs for teens, such as Teen Read Week.
The Clay Madsen Recreation Center also offers instructional classes to children and youth, including Spanish, art, music, and pet care.
Opportunities to help others
Project Seeds is training Round Rock ISD teachers, administrators and students on the STARS Service Learning method. Project Seeds cultivates civic responsibility in youth and adult leaders.
The Parks and Recreation Department has regular tree plantings that frequently involve civic youth groups such as the Boy Scouts. The Department also has many other opportunities to volunteer.
The Round Rock Public Library has youth volunteers every summer.
A complete list of winners can be found at www.americaspromise.org. 100 Best Communities for Young People was first launched in 2005 by Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) in partnership with Capital One Financial Corporation.