CC ISSUE: JAN 2012 Last updated: Jan 18, 2012
CIOGC launches Intra-Community Youth Initiative
December 11--CIOGC launched the 1st of a monthly youth initiative to bridge stubborn racial divides within Chicago’s Muslim community. Middle school students of Arab, South Asian and Caucasian descent from the west suburban Webb Foundation weekend school joined with Nigerian middle school students from the Masjid Light of Islam in Chicago’s far south suburb of Harvey.
Not only did the youth develop relationships and a broader sense of belonging to the Muslim community, but they also explored their collective potential to affect social change in the area of hunger and poverty.
After half an hour of ice-breaking activities, the adult facilitators gave students a very visceral experience with the ever-increasing issue of hunger and poverty by inviting only the adults in the room to indulge in ice cream desserts with sprinkle and cookie crumb toppings while the kids were asked to contemplate some spurious questions on the dry-erase board. When the children asked if they too would be getting any ice cream, the event organizers regretfully shook their heads explaining that the ice cream was only for them because they worked hard to organize the event and thus deserved it! The kids stared blankly, not having the boldness to ask why they were denied, but painfully yearned for some. After a few minutes passed, the day’s main discussion began with the question, “How did that make you feel?” The students vulnerably admit to an array of feelings including anger, self doubt and envy. An ensuing discussion and video presentation illustrated the pervasiveness of hunger and the central Islamic theme of giving.
The most powerful part of the day however was when the students put their new awareness and empathy into action by arranging themselves into an assembly line that efficiently prepared nearly 60 turkey & cheese sandwiches with all the works, which were then distributed to Chicago’s homeless.
The program serves to bring together youth across race and class divides and empower them to recognize themselves as real agents of social change. These monthly forums will draw youth from suburban neighborhoods with those from Chicago’s underserved communities, and allow them a platform to brainstorm and organize direct services as well as identify and advocate for potential policy that supports their cause. Their efforts will culminate into an advocacy trip to the Capitol building in Springfield on Illinois Muslim Action Day (IMAD) scheduled for April 17, 2012.
This project is the brainchild of Webb Foundation directors, including Dilara Sayeed. Webb Foundation weekend school incorporates service trips into their Islamic Studies curriculum. When Webb approached CIOGC to help facilitate their middle school service component, the Council - as an umbrella organization uniting 58 diverse mosque communities- naturally accepted.
To see more photos of this event, visit the CIOGC Facebook page. To share your comments, suggestions or your generous donations for this cause, please email email@example.com.