Our organization is a positive outcome created during the pandemic. As a Chicago Public School teacher, I saw my students closed in, staying at home, not able to go outside and play with their friends at the park. I used the time I was also shut in and developed a program based on experiential learning where they could connect with others virtually during out-of-school times while they explore, create, and share.
In September 2020, we implemented five AfterSchool Clubs: “Ultimate Hard Core Video Gaming”, Engineering, 4-H University of Illinois’ “Smart Cents”, Cooking Challenge, and “Health Rocks”. During the fall we also participated in Chicago Park District’s Halloween Trunk-or-Treat, a Saturday Workshop hosted by Caterpillar, Texas A&M, and the Women’s Society of Engineers in Illinois where our youth built birdhouses with the guidance of Adult Mentors from each of the groups.
In January 2021, we implemented eight AfterSchool Clubs: Engineering, LEGOS Design, Chess, Choir, Inventors, Anime, Coding and a youth favorite, UHC Gaming.
As our organization learns, grows, and evolves, our Clubs and projects change, and our mission remains the same. CommUnity Makery's mission is to increase equity among underserved Chicago youth who live in the Howard Area of Rogers Park and beyond. With collaboration and partnerships with other organizations, our STEAM+ programming is evolving. We have several projects in the planning stages to implement this Spring. The pandemic we've been in has been life changing for all of us. I am glad that we have been able to create something good out of an ugly situation. With the resources and networks we are building, our youth are establishing life skills to prepare them for a bright future.