Learning Matters 2017

The 21 youth involved in Family Matters’ summer program, Learning Matters, packed learning and summer fun into their four weeks here. Participants chose classes to participate in each week. Here are some of the highlights:

Sew What?

The youth in this class learned how to hand sew, use a sewing machine, and measure fabric for a desired outcome. By the end of this week, they made a fleece blanket and a bean bag (with fabric they tie-dyed earlier in the week) for Family Matters’ Peace Room and Library. They also made and took home their own personal pillows, head bands, and phone cases.

Thank you to volunteer Moriah Turner for sharing your talents!

Snuggling with finished sewing projects

Cardboard Creations

The idea for this class came from a former student who loves creating things out of cardboard. On the first afternoon, the children were presented with a challenge to see what they could do with the cardboard. They watched Cain’s Arcade about a little boy who was bored one summer and created a whole arcade of games out of cardboard. They were mesmerized by the video. It was suggested that they make either a game or a fort with the cardboard and they were off!

First they submitted a design and then they started gathering their materials. The only struggle was getting the group to stop working at the end of the class! The next day they were asking to work on forts during lunch and the normally full to capacity computer lab had one person in it.

Forts included features like skylights (or turrets, as the case may be), telescopes that could double as ammunition launchers, mailboxes, swinging doors, and flags. There were also several arcade games created involving tossing balls at targets and through slots. Each group offered a video tour of their creations and then had a blast destroying the forts which were too big to travel home.

It was reassuring to see the creative and inventive spirits rise to the challenge and the pure joy the participants exhibited in the process of completing their creations.

Change Agents

In this class, discussions centered around what it means to be an agent of change and change agents that youth know or have learned about. On the first day, participants “transformed” into change agents with the goal of beautifying Family Matters’ neighborhood. This proved to be an exhausting, yet exhilarating task, especially since it was the day after the July 4th holiday. Julissa thought she picked up “hundreds of fireworks!”

Youth returned to Family Matters to discuss the experience and decide on their activity for day two – writing letters to advocate for a cause. They learned about advocacy and the youth provided examples of activities that qualify. Rogelio “Junior” told the group about Malala Yousafzai and Cesar Chavez. Junior was well informed and added valuable information to enhance the class experience. The youth decided to write letters to President Donald Trump, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and the Chicago Public Schools Nutrition Services, and took their task very seriously.

Joselin asked how to spell “separate” so that she could write a letter to President Trump about his policies separating families. Julissa noted that this was the first time she had ever written a letter. Intern (and former Learning Matters student), Amy, wrote two full pages to CPS to advocate for healthier school lunches. This was truly a fulfilling class and a great taste of what we can do to work toward dismantling systemic oppression!

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