Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Summer Well Spent: Uptown Youth Learn, Grow & Give Back at Christopher House

Christopher House is a wonderful resource for Uptown's families, with income-adjusted child care available for children six weeks and older, after-school programs, and family counseling and programming as well. Here is what some of its students did to give back to Chicago over the summer:

"For many Uptown youth, summer was spent at various camps, playing at Clarendon Park and Aster Playlot, grabbing ice cream from the Broadway Baskin-Robbins, and running around the neighborhood throughout the all-too-short season. For those who also attend Christopher House (4701 N Winthrop), summer was not only fun-filled but also focused on experiential learning, community service and leadership development.

In mid-June, Christopher House kicked off its full-day After School program with a total of 32 Uptown kids and teens. Designed to maximize the summer months, the annual program features a hands-on curriculum comprised of unique themes for each day that provide well-rounded learning experiences while helping to mitigate the summer slide for students while school is out.

Our “Art Mondays” allowed kids to express creativity with their own work and visit local museum exhibits to learn about art appreciation while “Total Wellness Tuesdays” helped them understand healthy lifestyle choices in terms of emotion and stress management, nutritious diet, and physical fitness.

Youth also participated in “Wisdom Wednesdays” where activities such as discussions on current events and workshops on leadership styles and conflict resolution helped to develop valuable life skills. With this, the students had several opportunities to take part in a wide range of enriching and educational experiences.

“Christopher House takes an innovative approach to education year-round, and summer is no exception,” said Erika Alcibar, Associate Director of School Age and Youth Development at Christopher House’s Uptown site. “Our goal is to provide a productive learning experience that not only engages students to avoid the summer slide and keep them on track for the next school year, but also exposes them to exciting new opportunities and experiences around Chicago and beyond. We have the opportunity to partner with incredible students and families, and summer is yet another chance for us to help them succeed in school, the workplace and life.”

The After School program also exposes Christopher House students to the benefits of service learning and the importance of civic responsibility on both a local and global level.

Earlier this summer, the youth themselves determined an area of need they wished to focus their efforts on. Feeling most drawn to homelessness and hunger, the students planned and executed a food drive and volunteered at a neighborhood food pantry where they served meals to the homeless.

Similarly, the students also selected a project to help those in need beyond Chicago. This year’s summer program participants chose to organize a coin drive fundraising effort with the goal of raising enough money to sponsor the delivery of a dairy goat to three Haitian families, allowing them the opportunity for general education, financial independence, food security, and upward mobility.

“We were really excited to be able to help the three families in Haiti this summer,” said Dennis K., a 14-year old student at Christopher House in Uptown. “I didn’t realize that we could have this big of an impact from so far away, and I feel good about doing what I can to help them.”

For more information about Christopher House and its unique approach to closing the opportunity gap by helping low-income, at-risk families succeed in school, the workplace, and life, visit"

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