Sisters Niaja and Feith in their "Get out the Vote" video as part of their summer project at MSV's summer youth program.
Teen Summer Program Goes Virtual
Connecting Communities | August 2020
It’s 10 a.m. on a sunny Tuesday in July and the teens at MSV begin logging on one at a time to their daily group video conference discussion. The topic for this meetup is a follow up to a training on how to write a personal summary or objective for a job resume.
Through a few morning yawns, participants read their statements from the mock resumes each has been crafting as part of the program’s job-readiness trainings. “I am seeking a position where my passion and skills in teaching others, art, singing, dancing, and housekeeping can all be put to good use,” read one incoming high school Freshman aloud on the call.
“That was really good!” encouraged Marquiesha Grant, MSV Youth Counselor, who co-leads the teen program. “There’s a lot in there though so you might want to narrow it down and make it a bit more specific.”
One Summer Chicago "Chicagoability" is an initiative by the City designed to connect youth to a successful future with a summer job. By partnering with various institutions and community-based organizations, the city’s goal is to provide short-term employment opportunities for young people and MSV was awarded 30 slots for teens for the second year in a row.
“Working in [the program] is teaching me a lot about the real world,” shared Niajah, an incoming high school sophomore, “from voting, to job seeking, resume-building, and just teaching me a lot about politics and our community.”
The former cohort from Summer 2019 centered on community service; helping at area homeless shelters, doing neighborhood cleanups, and working with children. That model had to change for 2020. “We want to keep the young people engaged even though we can’t all be together,” explained Tyeshawn Lewis, program co-leader. In addition to the job-readiness trainings, Tyeshawn described how this year's cohort is working on a special project, “with it being an election year, we’ve shifted to focus on community advocacy, especially around voting.”
The participants have designed flyers, buttons, and taken to social media with a personal video campaign to educate their friends and families about the importance of voting. The 10 to 30 second video clips (scroll down for our compilation video) show each of the youths sharing why they think it’s important to vote while also interspersing messages of racial and social justice.
"I think it is important to vote because no voice is small and every single vote counts."
Niajah, Teen Summer Program Participant and incoming high school sophomore
“We’ve taken extra time throughout this project to help them understand what is at stake in this next election,” said Marquiesha. “We watched Good Trouble, the super passionate speech from Black Lives Matter Advocate Kimberly Jones, and we're just having daily conversations about this current moment and what has led up to it.”
As the summer comes to a close and the school year approaches, the program co-leaders are taking special care to give brief daily updates on COVID-19, “we really want them to understand the risks around the pandemic and I feel like I did my job if they go into this school year prepared to promote mask-wearing, distance, and hand-washing to all their peers,” explained Marquiesha.
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