by Eliana Vazquez
The Youth Service Project (YSP) provided an expressive platform and educational resources to the nearby community and their youth on Aug. 24 as their youth leaders helped organize and host Youth Rise Up! at the YMCA in Humboldt Park.
In collaboration with Chicago Commons and YMCA, the Youth Service Project held a series of social awareness workshops with topics ranging from anti-oppression to the culture of hip-hop. Services, such as free HIV testing were offered to the public as well.
For decades, the Youth Service Project has been providing a variety of recreational programs and preventative services to the youth and families of the Humboldt Park area, yet its main focus on educating and providing leadership summits for the youth has created a group of young leaders who made an event like Youth Rise Up! possible.
“It felt good to educate others on the forms of oppression and receive feedback from them,” stated Ray, one of the organizing youth leaders. “I would love to see this event happen again.”
Spoken word, hip-hop and song performances by the youth leaders and participants told personal stories, illustrated talent and demonstrated the importance of maintaining a creative outlet for self-expression as an alternative to street violence.
Once the workshops ended, attendees were invited to enjoy food and outdoor performances by contributors, such as social activists and hip-hop group Rebel Diaz. Being the very first of its kind, the event represented YSP’s emphasis on working with the youth and giving them the tools to help them become leaders.