Abraham Lincoln Centre does its part to stop violence with Community Day picnic

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 Chicago IL – The Abraham Lincoln Centre (ALC), located in the heart of the Bronzeville community since 1905, hosted a free barbecue for community residents on Saturday, August 7th at Mandrake Park East on 39th & Cottage Grove Avenue.

 During this Community Day Picnic, the ALC announced many new initiatives that the organization is implementing to engage children and youth in positive community activities. The community picnic could not come at a better time given the increased youth violence throughout Chicago.

“We are mourning the recent loss of one of our teenagers,” says Zirl Smith, ALC President & CEO, referring to the tragic slaying of Jamonie Richards who participated in programs and activities at the Centre.  “His untimely death is just another tragic reminder that we as a community must be more aggressive in reaching our youth.”  The Abraham Lincoln Centre is well known as a sanctuary for children and teens throughout Chicago’s South-Side, offering mentoring, learning and development programs, and structured recreational activities.    

More than 100,000 Chicago area children ages 5-19 reported to have been the victim of serious physical assault; and more than 200,000 reported to have witnessed serious violence.  The ALC Community Center building, located at 3858 S. Cottage Grove, provides a safe haven for area youth to complete homework assignments in the study room; play basketball or other sports in the full size gymnasium; attend music, drama and dance classes; access the full-service computer lab; participate in the academic and social development workshops; and relax in the game and recreational rooms.  ALC gives youth many options to build and develop their natural potential in order to succeed in life. 

The Centre launched a comprehensive mentoring program for teens ages 13-17 addressing the issues specific to today’s inner city youth.  The program includes structured meetings with teens; guest speakers on a wide range of topics including managing through aggression, overcoming society’s obstacles, being a positive role model for the next generation, and more.  “The advice and guidance I’ve received from both my teen mentors and the Centre’s counselors have helped me tremendously in taking control of my destiny,” says Shaquitta Smith, 16 years-old.  “And I’m anxious to provide that same guidance to someone else.”   

“Grooming our youth to be responsible leaders, not just in the future, but right now; and providing them with the skills and resources necessary for creating a brighter tomorrow for themselves and our neighborhoods, are the key messages in bringing residents together for a Community Day Picnic,” states Zirl Smith.  

Founded in 1905 as a settlement house, the Abraham Lincoln Centre’s mission is to provide the tools necessary for community members to lead healthy productive lives in order for future generations to become the best that they can be. Today, ALC serves over 7,000 children and families a year at 13 program sites throughout Chicago’s south side.  A few of ALC’s flagship programs include helping at-risk children and youth gain the education and skills necessary to succeed in life, supportive housing and social services for people with disabilities, and support programs such as life skills initiatives for seniors and families.

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