The rhythmic beat of African drums reverberated throughout Hamilton Park, 513 W. 72 ndStreet on Saturday, August 26th; and local youth were in the spotlight at a pulse-pounding "Drum Circle for Peace" program presented as part of this summer's Safest Summer 2017 Initiative "Praise in the Park."
The musical extravaganza was part of a Back-to-School program that encouraged youth to "look to the future and stay positive in your focus as you return to classes this fall."
Coordinating the "drums for peace" festivities was noted drummer Ernest Dawkins, Executive Director of the Safest Summer Initiative. Dawkins explained that this is the second year of the Drum Circle, which encourages local residents, particularly youth, to join his fellow drummers "and is designed to help negative influences facing our young people and show them a positive direction through music."
In complete agreement with Mr. Dawkins is Perry Gunn, Executive Director of Teamwork Englewood, who explains that the summer musical fests are held at several community parks throughout the summer, and that this August 26th event was held in conjunction with Residents Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.), under the leadership of executive director Asiaha Butler, as part of her "So Fresh Saturday Tour" in local parks.Ms. Butler points out that "These park events are very positive and much-needed for our youth. Our parks should be used for family-fun events like this...this is what summer is all about!"
In addition to the drumbeats, youngsters enjoyed free food and school supplies, the popular Jumoping Jack, and were entertained by rap music by local performers, offering inspirational messages of "Stay in School" and "Don't let anyone turn you away from your positive goals."Megan Hougard, Chicago Public School chief of Schools Networks, echoed the "stay in school" message offered to the youngsters.
Information booths from community organizations including Imagine Englewood If..., Chicago Children's Choir, and LaTanya Johnson and Youth of Englewood, among others.
Debra Thompson, President ofSouthwest Federation Block Clubs of Greater Englewood had an informational literature table, and was quick to note that youngsters were "very happy with all this entertainment, Back-to-School Suppplies and food, and at the same time receiving messages for a safe, peaceful community here in Englewood."
Even local artists were encouraging the young people to remain positive about themselves and their futures.
The talented sketch artist "Justflow" stated that he had been part of the Drum Circle for the past two years, "and I think it's a great thing for the kids to experience."
This is a story about the Promote Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.