The Cairo Project -- a report by the students of the School of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

We Need Jobs, part 1 We Need Jobs, part 2 Download PDF
We Need Jobs.
Cairo High School's last football team.

Photo by Les Murray.

The Cairo High School Pilots played their games with mismatched uniforms and equipment until their
final season in 2005.

Part Two

One organization that has tried to help out the youth of Cairo is the Delta Center.

The Delta Center offers services for children and young people ages three to 17. Its programs involve tutoring, mental health services, abstinence education, and help for homeless and at-risk teens.

The center's Street Outreach Program offers help with issues such as health problems, housing, employment and schooling. This program is available for anyone in Cairo under the age of 21.

The Delta Center does a lot to make sure that the young people have more to do in Cairo than just “hang out,” and also looks after their mental and physical well-being.

Cairo City Councilman and minister Lorenzo Nelson says that the youth in Cairo are “the same as kids anywhere else.” However, Nelson said, there were more opportunities for people in Cairo when he was younger.

The group of young people at the McBride project is too young to remember all those opportunities. In much the same way that the levee protecting Cairo also stunted its growth, the fence around the housing project defines the edges of the young residents' lives. They speak of the many misconceptions outsiders hold that make them afraid to visit the projects. In reality, says a young man named Carlos, McBride is “the Cheers project” because, “everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came.”

Residents complain about the shortage of jobs and overabundance of police in the projects. “We don't need more cops, we don't need more police cars, we need jobs,” one man calls out.

There is one a bright spot on the horizon for Cairo youth. The city of Cairo is expecting a new arcade to open in the summer of 2007.

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