The Spring Health Fair at Zakat Foundation of America Community Center – Chicago (ZFCCC) nourished the mind, body and soul through mentoring programs, a mental health workshop, CPR instruction, live music and spoken word performances on Saturday, April 5th.
More than 50 people came to ZFCCC in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood to laugh together at jokes and start the day with a lighthearted presentation on the benefits of laughter, in line with the theme of Humor Awareness. In addition to participating in the day’s health-oriented activities, 20 young attendees signed up for ongoing mentoring.
ZFCCC Director Laila Muhammad said that the primary goals for the new group of 14-to-21-year-olds in the mentoring program will be education and employment. On Tuesday following the fair, 14 of the young people showed up to meet with Ms. Muhammad, do mock interviews, filling out mock applications, discuss appropriate dress for a job interview, and write answers to probable interview questions. Ms. Muhammad also asked each one what their special interests are and encouraged them to pursue those.
“The things they really like in life fit them naturally,” Ms. Muhammad said. “So that can be a source of success to them. Whatever their interest, we try to encourage them to go for it.”
While mentoring offered hope for a productive future, Thresholds, a Chicago-based community mental health organization, brought a mental health perspective to those present. The speaker described the difference between feeling sad after the death of a loved one or other loss, for example, and clinical depression that interferes with many aspects of a person’s life. Participants discussed the topic at length, asking numerous questions.
The interest in the Red Cross class on hands-only, citizen CPR was also intense, particularly among the younger attendees. The teacher stayed to give a second class for those who could not join the first one.
Those present enjoyed a light meal, spoken word performances and live jazz and rhythm and blues by Islamic Cultural Experience, or ICE, a South Side trio specializing in African-American musical forms.