I got my City doing front flips!!”- Chance the Rapper
Oh Chicago! Sweet home Chicago! The beautiful windy city! So much to say about this rich city. I should probably introduce myself. My name is Jess Vann, Manager of Programs and Partnerships for Multiplying Good and the Students in Action program. I have been working with youth and in the nonprofit sector for about 20 years. Chicago has been my home for about 14 years, and the place I have seen growth and impact being made on so many fronts. Specifically with Chicago Youth! Let me tell you, these youth are making their city do front flips! There is something about Chicago Youth that brightens your day, brings you joy and overall makes you smile. Maybe I am biased, but the time I have spent with Chicago Youth has always brought me the most joy, and most recently with our Students In Action Youth!
The Students In Action youth in Chicago are doing some phenomenal work being change agents in their communities and schools. On February 28th, we were able to bring youth from across our 10 sites in our Mid-Winter Conference which took place with our partners at University of Illinois-Chicago Student Leadership and Civic Engagement department! They were able to build community, learn from one other and partake in a robust panel, who spoke on varying topics from homelessness, giving back to your community as youth, and supports for LGBQTIA+ youth. Youth were uber-engaged and asked thought provoking questions about how to continue advocacy in these areas. The conference left them energized and ready to tackle the service projects they are working on ranging from our Lakeview Communities to our Englewood communities to South Shore.
The skills they learned from Conference, fueled them to continue their work in pedestrian safety, flooding in communities, and recycling, just to name a few projects some of the youths are working on this year throughout Chicago.
I have used this quote before from Nina Simone, but it continues to ring with such strength. “There's no excuse for the young people not knowing who the heroes and heroines are or were.” Chicago youth continue to push the envelope, evoke change in their communities and in our hearts as well. They are guided by their wonderful advisors and other adult supports and most importantly, they are reminded of those shoulders they stand on.
Continue to uplift and empower youth voice for they are the blueprint of our future.