Monday, April 28, 2008

Cabrini-Green Kids Talk about Violence

Today's Chicago Tribune has a feature story titled, Hidden Wounds of Violence, which shows how the "exposure to violence is linked to childhood depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, learning problems, sleep difficulties, poor academic performance and a host of other problems."

With inner city neighborhoods serving as a war zone, no wonder school performance is low and drop-out rates are high. A few years ago I attended a funeral for one of our students, where I met others who had also been part of the tutoring program started at Montgomery Ward in Chicago. One told me "we don't expect to be alive at age 25".

At the end of this article, the parent of the student featured in the story said, "she has enrolled him in tutoring, mentoring and other programs to give him an outlet for his energy in a safe, indoor environment."

Tutoring/mentoring programs that operate in the non-school hours can be one way to surround youth with a network of caring adults and a variety of positive learning reinforcements...but only if they are available.

You can learn about tutor/mentor programs serving Chicago by searching the Program Links, or the Program Locator database on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site.

As Cabrini Green is being redeveloped, many potential donors think there no longer is a need for such programs, making it difficult for Cabrini Connections and others serving youth in this area to find donors.

However, Cabrini Green is fortunate. For too many kids there are no tutor/mentor programs in their neighborhoods, or the ones that exist are too small, or not well developed.

We're trying to change this but we need your help. While the Mayor and others are holding their own meetings, we're hosting a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference on May 29 and 30. It's at Northwestern University School of Law. I hope you'll spread the word and encourage potential donors, sponsors, business partners, and faith leaders to attend so they can connect with existing programs, and learn how to create new programs in areas with high violence, but few programs.

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