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Teen-Agers, Elderly Team Up to Combat Crime Together

December 20, 1990|CATHERINE WILSON | Associated Press

Terrence Page and Maryon Freifelder have been an unlikely pair of friends for three years, teaming up on issues of interest to young and old.

Page is a senior at Miami Central High school in Miami, Fla.; Freifelder is an activist with the American Assn. of Retired Persons and a member of Florida's Silver-Haired Legislature.

Together, they have traveled across the state on campaigns for new laws. Now they are teaming up again to promote a new crime-prevention project--called Youth and Elderly Against Crime--linking the two generations.

"We sincerely believe that youth and age--if we're willing to walk hand in hand--can solve any problem in this community," Freifelder said.

Of the 79,000 crimes committed in Miami last year, only two-tenths of 1% involved seniors. But crimes against the elderly created a sense of outrage and opened the door for the program.

About 150 students from three inner-city high schools will be linked with two senior housing complexes, a senior community center and a downtown church to survey seniors about crime and suggest solutions.

One of the program's biggest achievements would be to eliminate a widely expressed fear among the elderly of teen-agers--all teen-agers.

Page has known the unwillingness of seniors to accept teen-age strangers, but he considers that a minor setback.

"One of the reasons why there's resistance is that a lot of time it's hard for people to believe that somebody cares," the 18-year-old said.

But he sees the generation gap as a misunderstanding that can be resolved.

In the first stage of the one-year project, teen-agers will be matched with a designated group of seniors in their neighborhoods to meet regularly and draft crime-prevention plans.

"Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want--and their kids pay for it."

--Richard Lamm, former governor of Colorado

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