Chicago is ready for a seismic shift in how to work with school-age children. The “village” required to raise a child is actually a city ripe for that challenge.
Sometimes, young people value doing nothing over doing something.
Why? Positive activities have never been presented to them in a way that addresses their values, which are often misplaced. Many urban youth see professional sports as a realistic job opportunity, define success as earning quick cash and see upward mobility as a goal for someone else. Viewing life through this lens, many cannot see their own limitations and do not have the ability to ask the right questions to change their life trajectory. White-collar work is considered unachievable and blue-collar work is considered beneath them. Many are afraid of failure, or will say they don’t want to be a statistic. But often, underserved youth don’t truly understand how to avoid that outcome.
After-school activities can play an important role in this scenario, selling the concepts of academics and upward mobility via a vehicle that youth are engaged in and value. By appealing to a young person’s current values, after-school programs can ultimately change those values and make future success much more likely.