Parkway Gardens after-school program Future Ties getting a new, bigger space

Founder Jennifer Maddox expects to move into a former Walgreens store before children go back to school after receiving a $1 million donation.

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A Future Ties worker helps a student with her homework.

A Future Ties worker helps a student with homework.

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Future Ties, run by Chicago Police Officer Jennifer Maddox, has room for 40 kids at a time in its Parkway Gardens basement center. The after-school program provides services to a total of 1,200 children.

“We had to turn away so many young people that never got an opportunity to be a part of Future Ties,” she said of her 11-year-old organization. “Some of those young people we’ve lost to gun violence. If we had space, maybe we could have saved their lives. Maybe we could have changed their trajectory some kind of way.”

Maddox’s dream of a bigger space for Future Ties has gotten a boost from The Beachbody Foundation and the GO Campaign, which have pledged $1 million to help turn a former Walgreens store at 6330 S. King Drive into a new home for Future Ties.

“We’ve struggled because we don’t have adequate space in here,” Maddox said. “And it’s difficult for many kids to go outside the neighborhood and cross gang territory boundaries.”

Maddox envisions the 25,000-square-foot space including a teen center, a parent programs space, an area for its barbershop program, a larger kitchen and a place for the kids to run around indoors.

“I have a lot of depressed teenagers and kids because there’s nothing in this community for them to really enjoy or have access to when it comes to programming or recreation,” said Maddox. “This is going to open up a lot of doors for them and their families.”

Woodlawn residents plan to ring bells Monday morning outside the former Walgreens as Beachbody Co., a fitness and wellness company based in Santa Monica, California, goes public.

When Beachbody Co. decided to go public, it set out to help a community organization with similar interests. The GO Campaign suggested Future Ties.

Future Ties has been tackling childhood obesity by teaching about proper nutrition and physical activity and providing healthy meals and snacks for kids in the program.

“That is the exact embodiment of what Beachbody has been about for 20 years — helping people get active, learn about nutrition and making them feel like there’s a community that cares about helping them succeed,” Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler said.

Future Ties’ larger space will also allow offices for services like mental health counseling, financial literacy classes, access to legal services and help with housing issues.

Because of gun violence in their neighborhood, Maddox emphasized the need for accessible mental health services.

“A couple of social service agencies are here to work with us because they know that traumatic incidents happen over here on a daily basis,” Maddox said. “They not only affect parents but the kids. It’s just is a trickle-down effect.”

The new center will have room for over 100 kids at a time, and Maddox has already heard the excitement from Woodlawn families about the new space.

She hopes for the new location to be ready for use by back-to-school season this fall.

“I just feel so blessed and so grateful,” Maddox said. “They [Beachbody] are committed to making sure that families have the resources and opportunities.”

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