Summer means sun, fun and no school. But unfortunately, summer in Chicago also has come to mean a spike in gun violence in too many neighborhoods. In response, to provide youth with engaging activities in safe spaces that raise awareness of the risks and positively support youth, the MacArthur Foundation awarded UCAN 12 mini grants to fund youth-led projects in North Lawndale during summer 2018.
Check out what each youth group did with their grant:
- Kingdom Builder’s Christian Center
Kingdom Builder’s Christian Center held a Gun Violence Awareness Rally on August 18 where the project’s youth leaders held a uniform and school supplies giveaway along with fun activities and food to promote unity in the community. The youth experienced the satisfaction of putting on a large event and made a difference in the community.
- Sankofa Safe Child Initiative
Sankofa Safe Child Initiative held a “Girls Speak Out Task Force” forum on August 24. A group of young women watched the film “Hidden Figures” and held a discussion on the topic of self-love and self-esteem. The goals were to decrease violence through discussion, education, and participation. The youth who presented the forum were empowered and learned leadership and service skills, values and commitment.
- SAIC – The Art Institute at Homan Square
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) partnered with the Drums, No Guns foundation to host three “Junkyard Jam” workshops on August 15, 17, and 18. The workshops focused on rhythm, music, and art to promote nonviolence and peace in the community. The youth helped to lead bucket drumming classes and mural painting to use music, art and dialogue to process the causes, symptoms and consequences of collective trauma as a result of violence.
- SAIC- The Art Institute at Homan Square
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) partnered with the African Heritage Garden to host a non-violence community celebration and volunteer workday. The anti-violence community celebration’s objective was to engage local residents to raise public awareness of city-wide anti-violence initiatives, promotes reflection upon cultural heritage and ancestry, and encourage holistic well-being.
- Harmony Church
Harmony Church held a “Peace Jam”, promoting peace and non-violence, on August 25. The youth conducted an anti-violence prayer session with the community and provided members of the North Lawndale community with school backpacks, food, music, and hosted outdoor activities. The goals? Help the youth leaders build on their leadership skills, allow residents to enjoy a safe space, and support the youth leaders in making informed decisions to prevent trauma and violence in their lives.
- Strategic Human Services
Strategic Human Services/NLCN held many “Dance for Peace” block club parties throughout North Lawndale featuring free entertainment and peace messages. The youth participated in something bigger than themselves, gained larger roles in the community and met new people.
- Boxing Out Negativity
Boxing Out Negativity held a “Gloves, Not Guns” and a “Bike Ride for Peace” on July 4 and August 11, respectively and educated youth on the topic of gun violence and promoted peace in North Lawndale. Youth built a sense of team, cultivated leadership skills, provided a platform for sharing community resources, and inspired positive action among youth through anti-violence dance.
- Chicago Youth Centers (CYC)
Chicago Youth Centers (CYC) held a Chicago Ideas Day anti-violence “Play Streets” event and youth leaders led an anti-violence march in North Lawndale in the summer. The youth worked together, marched without violence, built a sense of community, to demonstrate to the adults see why non-violence important.
- The Night Ministry (Phoenix Hall) and Loveren Collections
The Night Ministry and Loveren Collections collaborated and held four workshops in August focusing on conversations in healing, violence, and self-love. The goals were to empower people by learning about their bodies, share skills, and heal from past trauma and low self-esteem as a result of violence. The youth were inspired to blossom into entrepreneurs in a space for creative growth and leadership.
- Grace and Glory Tabernacle Church
Grace and Glory Church held a neighborhood cookout and hosted vacation Bible schools throughout the month of July to bring youth from from the streets to enjoy team-building exercises and skills, while improving their reading and communication skills.
- Community Christian Academy (CCA)
Community Christian Academy (CCA) held an Anti-violence Registration Fair on August 23 to encourage youth to enroll in and get motivated about school. Support from peers motivated the students and helped them see the importance of pursuing academic success. The youth acted as leaders and engaged their peers by refocusing their energy on positive and life-changing goals.
- Forward Thinking Mentoring
Forward Thinking held a festive block party in September to bring the North Lawndale community together in non-violent activities focused on unity.