3000 CPS and DePaul University students celebrated Chicago Youth Service Day on Saturday, May 05, 2012, with a Peace Rally at Union Park on the city's West Side. Students from across the city served in a variety of capacities during the morning then convened at Union Park for a massive rally. Highlights from the Peace Rally included radio DeeJay FM Supreme, community activist Ameena Matthews from Cease Fire, and the a spoken word performance by TEAM Englewood students.
Prior to the rally, students enjoyed an afternoon of activities including hip hop dancing, live graffiti art, face-painting, peace posters, and team building games. More than a dozen community organizations also offered students the opportunity to extend their day of learning by continuing their volunteer or advocacy work.
The message of the day was peace. Joy McCormack, the mother of slain DePaul student Frankie Valencia, exhorted the students to take seriously their ability to create peace in their communities. Ameena Matthews challenged the students to leave the celebration with a renewed commitment to become a peace maker.
Two DePaul students and one Roosevelt High School student spoke of their semester-long efforts through the Community Peace Makers Initiative. CPS students, with the support of DePaul graduate and undergraduate students, studied the problem of violence and attempted to understand the root causes of violence. Each of the 20 groups created a peace project as a culminating to to their studies. Roosevelt High School, for example, staged a highly successful peace march.
Throughout the day students from 50 high schools and ten middle schools worked with seniors, did restoration work in forest preserves, completed renovation projects at community organizations, and worked at environmental sites throughout the city.
The third annual Chicago Youth Service Day was a huge success.
Unfortunately, political leaders and Chicago's media chose not to attend. It is a sad fact that the efforts and spirit of young leaders in Chicago is not important enough to draw their attention.