Kids in Englewood have so many bad influences and images staring them in their faces as they wake up each morning. Those images are sometimes block after block of " DO NOT CROSS" police tape from an incident earlier in the day or the bad memories from the scene of a crime that happened weeks ago but still visible. Debris blowing in the wind, broken glass strewn across vacant lots, or the preying influences of street corner youth offering a different image, a different path, a different kind of life.But imagine…a new influence...an image of play, laughter, sharing, friendship, and most importantly...how each kid can grow up and make positive change in their lives, in their communities, in their futures.......if they are given the chance and the opportunity.That is the attraction, the vibe, and the goal of Imagine Englewood If located 750 W. 69th offers the kids this summer.
Imagine Englewood If...... "Kids on The Move" summer camp for kids ages 7-12, under the guidance of Executive Director Geri Harston, is one of the places this summer that can truly prove to non-believers that there is hope for Englewood. As a reporter for the Youth Media Project assigned by the Monroe Foundation to engage and write a narrative of the change that is taking place through the programs of groups supported by the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, I visited a group of children who can possibly change the way people look at the Southwest side of Chicago.
The Summer Camp provides both outdoor and indoor activities: competitive sports including track and tennis at Hamilton Park, 72nd-Normal; and a daily indoor cultural program to encourage mental growth.Paving the way to greatness each kid has a different way of expressing their values and creativity. They think higher than most kids their age and are far more intrinsically advanced. I love the way they learn in different ways through art and spoken word. I spoke to some of the children as one kid told me," I live with my mom and we both like it here, there is so much to do" while another kid told me, "The one part I like is rapping". Each kid had a different perspective but they were all a part of something that gives kids a different light on Chicago. Imagine Englewood If...... is helping inspire children to do more than simply play but to embrace other ways of life..............enabling them to believe more than "if"/Infusing their young minds with inquiring games like chess and huge puzzles, that encourages analytical abilities and problem-solving strategies to taking them around Chicago to learn and become educated and about other communities, people and cultures. I admire what this organization is doing and how it encourages kids to explore other possibilities because it is truly different from anything you have ever seen.
This is a story about the Promote Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.
Ruth Johnson is a reporter for the Youth Media Project assigned by the Monroe Foundation.