Neighborhood University doesn't offer degrees, but it does teach Wichita residents ways to invigorate their neighborhoods.
The one-day program of seminars and panel discussions will be held Sept. 18 at Metropolitan Baptist Church, 825 W. Douglas.
"The theme is cultivating healthy neighborhoods," said Brenda Salvati, who helped plan the year's event. "Neighborhoods that not only have curb appeal and that kind of thing but neighborhoods where people know each other, where people work together and try to create a good environment for their children to grow up in."
It's the ninth year for Neighborhood University, which is sponsored by the nonprofit Wichita Independent Neighborhoods Inc. About 100 to 150 people have attended past sessions.
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One new topic this year that Salvati is excited about is a workshop on getting youngsters involved in neighborhood activities. Salvati, assistant director of a substance prevention program, will head the workshop. She'll cover strategies for recruiting youngsters into programs where they can learn and serve the community.
Another segment is the "Good, Bad and Ugly" panel discussion and question-and-answer session featuring longtime Riverside activist Kathy Dittmer, City Councilman Jim Skelton, a police officer and a city inspector. The goal is to teach residents how to use city officials to address problems in neighborhoods.
Also on the agenda:
* Keynote speaker Deputy Police Chief Nelson Mosley, who will discuss ways to keep neighborhoods safe.
* How to develop a community garden, including tips on what kind of garden might work in your neighborhood.
* A primer on conducting neighborhood meetings effectively.
According to Salvati's co-planner, Gail Emley, the goal of Neighborhood University is to make people realize that they have a stake in the city that's as important as anyone — and that they can benefit from the services local government offers. WIN serves Sedgwick County as well as Wichita.
"We would like to make citizens aware of what's available to them," she said. "The city is us. It's not just the leaders. If we don't help undergird those things, then we won't have that good quality of life."
Bill Prather, WIN's treasurer, said Neighborhood University has proven so successful in some areas that it's dropped some topics, such as how to hold a neighborhood cleanup. "I guess we educated everybody on that," he said.
And while participants don't get a degree, they do receive a certificate showing they attended, Salvati said.