Ill. state Rep. Connie Howard
By Matt Simonette
Youth Pride Center, 637 S. Dearborn, last week celebrated its fourth anniversary with an awards ceremony and performance showcase at Illinois Institute of Technology.
The program for the Oct. 24 event, held at Hermann Hall, 3241 S. Federal St., was emceed by Meggan Green, YPC’s director of development and communications, who spoke on the year’s theme, “Youth at Hope, Not at Risk.”
“So many times we tell our young people that they are ‘at risk’—they’re at risk for not graduating high school, they’re at risk for not getting a good job, they’re at risk for not succeeding generally in life. …(But) there is nothing inherent in these youth that is going to keep them from reaching any and all of these goals,” Green said.
Dance, song and spoken-word performances by YPC youth were alternated with awards presentations.
State Rep. Constance A. “Connie” Howard (D-Chicago), one of the YPC’s most enthusiastic supporters, was among the honorees. She said the news all too often focuses on youths getting into trouble, but her work with YPC has shown her that most youths have potential.
“Rarely do we hear about (young people) who are doing some great things—who are going to school, getting their education, doing great things in the community. I’m so proud that I know so many young people who are in that category,” Howard said.
She earlier this year met with YPC youth to emphasize to them the importance of their participation in the political process, a point she reiterated at last week’s event.
“I want you to be in touch with your own state legislator…and I want you to tell them that you want them to support any kind of legislation that has to do with HIV/AIDS, especially in the African American community,” Howard said.
“We need to keep this momentum going,” she added.
Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, was named YPC’s 2007 Youth Advocate of the Year.
Brown said that she had long been working with young people. “It’s important for us—especially as elected officials—to make sure that we’re reaching out to all of the community. …That’s why I reach out to the gay and lesbian community.”
Other honorees included Let’s Talk, Let’s Test Foundation, Pie Hole Pizza Joint, South Side Help Center, Carlos Estes and RCM Group, Inc.