Posts in The Real Chi
West Side music center thrives in the heart of Garfield Park

The Chicago West Community Music Center began in a North Lawndale kitchen. It was 1999, CPS had cut music and art funding from public schools, and Howard and Darlene Sandifer were frustrated with the lack of opportunities that young people in their home of North Lawndale had to pursue an affordable, accessible arts education. So, they took matters into their own hands.

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Revolutionizing recess: nature playgrounds benefit children in McKinley Park

Jessica Fong still remembers the hours she spent playing outside and making mud pies as a kid growing up in Humboldt Park. Now the pre-K Chicago Public Schools teacher worries her students won’t have those memories. Up against a national trend of children spending hours staring at their phones, laptops, tablets and TV screens every day, Fong is employing a new kind of playground to help inspire a love of nature in her students.


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Filipinx artists explore authenticity, identity, filipino food during community dinner in Pilsen

A typical Filipino greeting starts with “Kamusta?” (How are you?) followed by “Kumain ka na?” (Have you eaten?). It’s undeniable that food is at the center of almost every Filipino interaction and gathering. In most social events, the ever-present bilao (circular basket) of pancit (noodles) or tray of lumpia (spring rolls) is always on the table, but folks rarely talk about food beyond complimenting it or exchanging recipes.

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Chicago teachers stage nation's first-ever charter school strike for sanctuary schools, better teaching conditions

In the early hours of the morning, hundreds of teachers and thousands of families finally got word that today would not be just another Tuesday. Unionized educators from 15 Acero charter schools walked picket lines instead of hallways today, after calling the first-ever charter school strike in American history over true sanctuary schools and better teaching conditions.

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Youth Peace Summit encourages city’s youth to take a step toward their future together

Earlier this month, teens from across the city of Chicago came out to St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in the Lincoln Park neighborhood for UCAN’s fourth annual Youth Peace Summit. The daylong event held four peer-led workshops, which paved the way for conversations on diversity, mental health and leadership.

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Punches on Purpose: How Boxing is changing lives of kids in the west side of Chicago

The Bloc, a non-profit youth boxing club in North Lawndale, pairs mentorship with training in boxing for kids on the West Side of Chicago. Launched by Jamyle Cannon, the program offers a safe place for kids to go after school to do homework, learn discipline, and maximize their potential. Modeled after its success at DRW, the Bloc is now in the process of starting two new programs at Frazier Preparatory Academy and the KIPP One Academy.

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You reap what you sow at New Horizons Garden

According to Rev. Celeste Groff, gardening is good for the body. A pastor at North Lawndale’s Chicago First Church of Brethren and caretaker of New Horizons Community Garden, she knows firsthand that the key to growth involves care. Especially for Groff, gardening is not just about reaping the benefits of fruits and vegetables.

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Parishioners of closing churches in the Bridgeport area are angered, skeptical about impending changes

As hundreds of Bridgeport-area parishioners walked out of St. Barbara Parish, there was no choir singing and no priest standing by the exit to bless them goodbye. Many were upset after learning of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s plans to close and merge several churches and their respective schools in Bridgeport, Canaryville and Chinatown as part of an initiative to alleviate financial strains and priest shortages.

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Comedic Improv and Mental Health

Most mental health facilities involve white rooms, kleenex boxes, and an overall “clinical” feel. Kanesha Walker Amaro, is the founder and CEO of consulting firm “Flipped Conscious. She is creating opportunities for mental health to be dissected in black and brown communities that feels more comfortable. Her tool of choice is improv, though the exact relationship between improv and mental health is still being discovered.

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Curvy Chick Yoga spotlights self-care by building strong minds and bodies

Facing constant battles with mental health, Angelica Lewis, a resident of North Lawndale, turned to her yoga mat to find inner peace and balance. She began visiting area yoga studios, but while there, she often found herself displaced. Lewis said she’s a curvier woman, and most classes or instructors weren’t considerate of her body’s needs.

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