What happens when you bring together 85 creative, hard-working, determined youth from Chicago’s west side for conversation and collaboration? For the last three years, Marillac St. Vincent has done just that, forging new bonds between young changemakers from the city’s west side.
Through a partnership with Breakthrough Urban Ministries and Taproots Inc., MSV has made a space for a small but dedicated council of 15 young people from the East Garfield Park, Austin, and North Lawndale neighborhoods. The cohort worked for months to plan and carry out a day-long conference for teens called the F.L.A.S.H. Youth Summit. The acronym highlights the 5 focus areas for the conference: Fitness, Leadership, Art, Sports, and Health.
“It’s been really good to get to connect with people my age from all over the west side who care as much as do about this community,” said Lavarion Anderson, a first-year student at Malcolm X and Youth Mentor for MSV.
The structure of the conference consisted of 5 45-minute sessions with lunch and closing ceremony. The teen participants rotated through the various stations taking part in activities ranging from mindfulness yoga and meditation to group dialogues on leadership and community development.
“The day started, and people were sort of timid coming into it. But by lunchtime you could tell that there was trust built because there was a lot of laughing and dancing and different groups mixing together.” said Lavarion. “By the end of the day I think we did what we set out to do which was give people a chance to just make connections and to really bond. It was a beautiful thing!”
The youth planning council for the summit hopes to grow the event in coming years, inviting participation from young people all over the city. For more information about MSV's programs for youth, visit the Our Programs page.
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