I attended my first of what will likely be many end of semester "teachbacks" at the award winning CityArts! program. It is both free and two blocks from our house, so as soon as Vivian was old enough (8), we got her on board with a twice a week arts class. There's also a palpable sense of Providence's larger youth arts pipeline (CityArts -> AS220 Youth, for example).
One thing that was particularly nice is that it gave Vivian a chance to meet some kids in the immediate neighborhood. The biggest problem with our part of Elmwood is the absence of any social spaces. You have to really try to meet anyone, and you then you simply never casually run into people. We've barely interacted at all with most of the young kids in the houses immediately around us. We barely see them at all. The requirement that everyone have off-street parking even contributes to this. Some people never seem to set foot on the sidewalk. We started to feel like maybe it was just us, but after a few months in Stirling I couldn't go anywhere without seeing someone I knew. It is basically just a problem of urban design and infrastructure investment.
Anyhow, I digress. So Vivian became pretty good friends with a girl who it turns out lives about a block away and is homeschooled. She also got to know a boy who lives a couple doors down and goes to Paul Cuffee charter school. We're glad we were able to choose a public school which is considered a "neighborhood" school by distance if not sociology, and by no means the closest to us.
But let's be clear here, ultimately it just sucks to have all the kids in a neighborhood going to different schools, and it is in some ways worse for urban youth that it would be for kids in the suburbs.
On the other hand, yay for CityArts! Great to have some neighborhood resources for kids.