Emphasizing the need to target the root causes of violence by connecting youth with opportunity, state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford is encouraging residents to hear directly from area youth at “Come Listen to Black Youth,” a conversation about community needs and opportunity scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 22 in the Thompson Center’s auditorium.
“The violence our youth face too often in our city is preventable, not inevitable,” Ford said. “We must all work together to develop peaceful and productive alternatives to violence. One key element in reducing violence involves developing partnerships in communities with at-risk people.
“Some Black youth in Chicago are putting themselves and our communities in the line of fire, which is why Black youth must be listened to and supported to protect their future and make all our lives safer.”
Ford notes that many children in Chicago are dealing with risk factors that can lead to violence, including past victimization, family conflict, rejection by peers, drugs, alcohol and lack of community involvement. Depression, anxiety and other health problems that can lead to mental health struggles are also a topic of concern.
“Protective factors that can help prevent youth violence include mentoring, parental training and involvement, non-violent conflict resolution, building social skills and reinforcing support systems in the community,” Ford said. “That’s why we are coming together with groups to be proactive in saving Black lives in the city and state.”
Wednesday’s event is designed to give youth an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns on the challenges they face as well as the hopes they have for heir future. As part of the function, students will have the opportunity to tour the nearby James M. Nederlander Theatre and learn about career opportunities in the entertainment industry. Ford will also take time Wednesday to recognize athletes and coaches from local athletic organizations Southside Wolfpack, Ladye Wolves and The Show Baseball.