Our final Play Streets Event of the summer was the Health and Wellness Fair, sponsored by the South Chicago Neighborhood Network (SCNN) and community partners. Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), our violence prevention program, partnered with CPS and Metropolitan Family Services to provide a back-to-school backpack giveaway.
Thanks to the Chicago Public Schools, SCNN provided 100 backpacks, and our partner Metropolitan Family Services also supplied families with 160 backpacks. The COVID-19 vaccine was available through Chicago Family Health Center. In total, 25 vendors attended the health and wellness fair. Tiarra Owen, SCNN Program Manager, hopes the health and wellness fair can be an annual end-of-summer celebration.
Ronnie Chester, Salud Center Program Manager, directed this summer’s Play Street events with School Watchers from the Safe Passage Program. Over 400 in total attended the events. “The community came out as best they could. We had limitations for entertainment because of the pandemic, but we still had a nice turnout,” said Ronnie. The Safe Passage Watchers kept the children engaged at the different play stations and canvassed the nearby blocks for community residents to attend the events.
This was our second year directing, the South Chicago Steel Rides, community bike rides. Four bike rides took place, but a few more were canceled due to weather. Ronnie, being a former Chicago Park District employee, arranged for Besser Park and their youth to participate. Bike riders were able to enjoy their front lake view while riding and at Rainbow beach.
UNITY Squad finished the last two weeks of its program in person. Many of the students had never met in person before because the first four weeks were virtual. Youth had the opportunity to get acquainted, build friendships, listen to guest speakers, and practice yoga together.
Our partner Yoga Care, taught yoga to the students virtually. This is their third year practicing yoga with UNITY Squad. “Since the South Chicago Neighborhood Network is focusing on mental health and trauma, we want to make sure we are focusing on health in general too,” said Program Manager Tiarra Owens. The youth found it relaxing. The purpose was to teach participants methods to release stress. The yoga class was instructed twice in the gym in-person.
Our Faith Based Nurse, Shonie Purnell, assisted with leadership and team building. One team-building activity was an obstacle course in the gym to teach youth how to problem solve and work together. Another guest speaker was Rev. Damon Smith, a community organizer. He explained that "even at their young age they can become community organizers.”
Another guest speaker was Judge Nicole Colbert-Botchway from Saint Louis, Missouri. She explained how the court system works. Participants asked her questions on her background on becoming a lawyer and later a judge. Judge Colbert-Botchway also spoke about her cases. Many of the youth were very engaged because of their interest in law and advocacy.
Youth participants also watched a presentation from 5-4-3-2-1 Go! Clocc Program from Lurie Children's Hospital on healthy eating and how to become health ambassadors. The presentation focuses on how youth should appropriately portion vegetables, fruit, and dairy. "We always have them speak to the youth so they can learn how to make healthy choices with their eating," said Tiarra.
We were also a host site for MAPSCorps for six weeks. MAPSCorps students used the innovation lab and recorded data based on assets in the community. Students develop a research question and then canvas the community. They are provided with cell phones to upload their findings. Their mapping is geared towards their research question, “What should the priority investment in South Chicago be and where should that investment come from?” Students presented their results at the MAPSCorps Scientific Symposium.
Many applicants are eager to work and “have a vested interest in their community. I interviewed a retired Chicago detective. One of her main goals was to give back to her community,” said Mustafa.
The program has 14 watchers returning. We have added Douglas Taylor school to our Safe Passage school list which includes Burnham Mathematics & Science Academy, James H. Bowen, George Henry Corliss, Myra Bradwell and Arnold Mireles schools.
Safe Passage is an initiative that CPS started, to provide safe passage for children walking to school in neighborhoods that are prone to violence. Safe Passage watchers stand at assigned posts and assist children getting to and from school safely.
Interested applicants can stop by to pick up an application at the SALUD Center, 3039 East 91st Street or contact Mustafa Sulaiman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (773) 734-9181 Ext. 2034
Local Congresswoman Robyn Kelly held a community town hall at the SALUD Center. Community residents, seniors and youth from our summer programming had the opportunity to ask Congresswoman Kelly questions. The 10th Ward Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza was also present.
Two months ago, the food distributions were restarted for SALUD Center senior residents in the remodeled community room. Senior Case Manager, Wendy Steward, gives the senior residents a ticket with a time to pick up their food, while practicing social distancing as well. The Greater Chicago Food Depository provides the food for distribution once a month. Wendy is assisted by Claretian Associates board member Alita Tucker and two other volunteers, Gail Spann and Shyvette Williams during the monthly food distributions. Seniors are provided with fresh produce, canned food, and bread. Food that is left is donated to other neighborhood food pantries.
It is with sad hearts that we say goodbye to our brother and co-worker Compton Jones, an outreach worker for the CP4P team. In the last year, Compton was not only a great asset but a wonderful team player, who looked out for others and was glad to use his skill set to change the neighborhood. As one of our older and more seasoned staff, he brought wisdom and “real talk” to the table while helping his participants seek more out of life. As Claretian Associate’s Street Outreach Program has expanded, matured and taken on greater professionalism over the years, our ability to take care of our staff has matured too. It is with bittersweet emotion that we mourned losing our beloved brother yet rejoice that we were able to help support his family through this difficult time. Even in his passing, Compton’s spirit of taking care of others continues! To God be the Glory!
The South Chicago Neighborhood Trauma Informed Symposium
The 4th annual South Chicago Neighborhood Network, Trauma-Informed Symposium will be virtual, October 4 through October 7, 2021. Register here.
Tech Corps Family Tech Day
Join us for Tech Corp next month for hands-on technology, activities and games. Register here.
Advocate Aurora Health and Sertoma Centre will be having a Mental Health First Aid Training at the Salud Center for Emergency Medical Services September 30, 2021. Register here.