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‘Summer Kickback Series’ starts for youth on South and West sides

Through the $1.3 million city-based program, 15 participating community groups will hire teens and young adults to promote and host youth-focused activities and vaccine advocacy initiatives.

Kids play in Lake Michigan for a summer camp.
Kids, between the ages of 6 and 12, enrolled in the Chicago Park District summer camp at Nichols Park play in Lake Michigan at 57th Street Beach near Promontory Point on the South Side, Wednesday, July 24, 2019.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The city launched its “Summer Kickback Series” Friday, aiming to create safe spaces and programs for youth on the South and West sides.

Through the $1.3 million program, 15 participating community groups will hire 10 to 20 teens and two young adults to promote and host youth-focused activities and vaccine advocacy initiatives during a nine-week period, according to a news release from the city.

The participants — ages 14 through 19 — will undergo online “vaccine ambassador” training through Malcolm X College so they can encourage their neighbors to take precautions against COVID-19 and get vaccinated if they aren’t.

Each Friday night until Aug. 27, the participating organizations will host a “For Teens, By Teens” event.

An anonymous donor is paying for funds for the hiring of 238 teens and young adults, according to the news release.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, First Lady Amy Eshleman, the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, Amazon, and community-based organizations started the “Summer Kickback Series” as part of the city’s My CHI.My Future, which strives to connect youth to their communities.

“The Summer Kickback Series builds upon MCMF’s efforts to further young Chicagoans’ professional development leading to positive futures,” Lightfoot said in the news release. “I am also delighted to see that this initiative builds upon our efforts to continue encouraging vaccinations against COVID-19 and utilizes our all-hands-on-deck approach to public safety.”

Messiah Equiano, the executive director of the Auburn Gresham-based CHI RISE, added that economically empowering young people, “builds confidence, self-esteem and enables them to get a better understanding of how life might be when they become full adults.”

The following organizations are participating in the “Summer Kickback Series”:

• Project Exploration – Austin

• CHI-RISE – Auburn Gresham

• New Eclipse Community Alliance – Back of the Yards

• Southwest Organizing Project – Chicago Lawn

• Community Assistance Programs – Englewood

• Breakthrough – East Garfield Park

• The BASE Chicago – West Garfield Park

• BUILD Inc. – Humboldt Park

• Gary Comer Youth Center – Greater Grand Crossing

• The Alliance 98 – Little Village

• Chicago Youth Centers – North Lawndale

• Girls Inc. of Chicago – Roseland

• Lost Boyz Inc. – South Shore

• Teamwork Englewood – West Englewood

• Phalanx Family Services – West Pullman