Apr 20, 2010
teens in distress
CLEVELAND – Youths in Cuyahoga County now have a rolling support network, thanks to RTA’s participation in Safe Place.

This national outreach initiative offers immediate access to a network of safety and support services, such as food, shelter and family counseling. When threatened or in a crisis, youths can board an RTA bus or train and alert the operator. They will then be taken to a community safe haven for needed services.

The first transit-focused Safe Place initiative in the nation

RTA’s partner agencies are:

  • Next Step/West Haven Youth Shelter
  • Bellefaire’s Homeless Youth Program.

These agencies will assist the youth in crisis, and may then put youths and families in touch with assistance programs available in Cuyahoga County.

RTA introduced the program today during a joint event with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, and Cleveland Metropolitan Schools Superintendent Dr. Eugene Sanders, along with students from his school district. The program begins May 1.

“Our buses and trains are visible on neighborhood streets throughout the county, providing youths literally hundreds of ways to get help, We are excited to bring this program to Northeast Ohio, and encourage other organizations to participate as well.” -- Joe Calabrese, RTA CEO and General Manager

Easy access to help is a key to the success of Safe Place. In other cities, along with transit systems, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and discount retails have been designated Safe Place locations. These are places where youths between the ages of 12-17 are familiar. Safe Place stickers are used to identify the spot as an outreach for assistance.

“When a teen runs away from home trying to resolve a difficult or threatening situation, proximity to help is very important, “says Sanders. “RTA makes a perfect Safe Place location, because many teens are familiar with the bus and train routes in their neighborhoods.”

RTA has developed interior bus and rail “car cards” to promote program awareness. Each bus and rail car will also carry a Safe Place logo decal. Safe Place training continues for hundreds of RTA bus and rail operators.

Over the next several months, RTA will work with school districts across Cuyahoga County to educate students about Safe Place.