Over 300 teenagers from around the world ‘beautify’ Humboldt Park

Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership ambassadors Wednesday helped paint, mulch and clean Humboldt Park, at 1400 N. Sacramento Ave.

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More than 350 students from all over the country and the world participated in a community service project Wednesday at Humboldt Park.

More than 350 students from all over the country and the world participated in a community service project Wednesday at Humboldt Park.

Cindy Hernandez | Chicago Sun-Times

About 350 students from around the globe participating in this year’s Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership’s annual World Leadership Congress gathered at Humboldt Park Wednesday to help beautify the 197-acre space.

Within just a few hours Antoli Beltran and Mariela Rivera, of Humboldt Park, said they could see a difference in the way the park looked during their morning walk.

“They’re doing a good job and they’re working hard,” said Rivera, 32. “I see a big difference; it looks way better.”

For the last six years, HOBY students have partnered with the Chicago Park District to paint, mulch and clean up the park, at 1400 N. Sacramento Ave.

Lila Acott, who is from the North Shore, said she never stepped foot in the Northwest Side neighborhood until Wednesday.

“The best service is when you really want to help out and when you feel like you are making a difference,” 16-year-old Acott said as she spruced up the park as part of the $100,000 community service project.

Beltran, 40, was glad others were being exposed to the neighborhood and were willing to lend a hand.

“Everybody in their own way puts a little bit into the community but I think to have other people from other places come in and help out is really good,” Beltran said.

HOBY’s weeklong World Leadership Congress is designed to help students build their leadership skills and focus on community empowerment.

HOBY President and CEO Javier La Fianza said through efforts like Wednesday’s clean-up, teenagers learn how “leadership is not about power, position or title. It’s your actions that make you a leader, that define you a leader.”

Acott said through HOBY this summer, she’s learned how to become more confident and “how to love myself, how to love my ideas, create and collaborate and just be kind of fearless.”

“It’s really scary to throw your ideas out there, but I think HOBY is a good place for young leaders to grow,” the teenager said.

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