Repairing community and police relationships aren’t easy topics. But that’s exactly what a group of teens from CYC-Sidney Epstein Youth Center ignited a conversation about last month.
In August, the Center hosted a Chicago Ideas Day, a youth-led event that was an opportunity for the teens to engage in social awareness, use their voice for the overall welfare of their community, and interview local changemakers.
The teens worked for eight weeks to develop a social awareness program that focused on police relationships and community unity.
They tackled this through a community event coupled with an action event. The day was inspired by Chicago Ideas, a movement built on sharing ideas to transform the world.
Center Director Clarence Hogan said the teens picked the topic of community unity and police relations because they are concerned about what is happening in their community.
“They can notice some serious injustices and some things that don’t seem to be going on in other communities,” he said. “I think that they can be culture shocked by traveling to different neighborhoods.”
For the community conversation, the youth invited Chicago Police Officer Reginald Murray to talk about repairing relationships between the police and the community. Community activist and mayoral candidate Ja’Mal Green was also present. He discussed community engagement and youth impact.
“I learned about the Black Lives Matter movement and how young people are involved in government and politics,” said Nateena, 16.
After the stimulating conversation, the youth participated in an action event by collaborating with Play Streets, which is an initiative that encourages healthier and stronger communities by creating safe and accessible residential play areas for kids to be active and to learn.
Next month, Chicago Ideas Week will be held Oct. 15-21. Hundreds of events across the city will push attendees to reconsider the limits of possibility. CYC teens will be attending several events to listen to speakers discuss the justice system and to also attend hands-on labs.