South Shore residents gathered at Zakat Foundation Community Center – Chicago (Zakat Foundation of AmericaCCC) for brunch followed by a neighborhood cleanup on Friday, May 23, to kick off their part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Faith and Action anti-violence initiative. Later that day a delegation met with the principal of nearby Bouchet Elementary Math and Science Academy to present sports equipment to children with perfect attendance.
Zakat Foundation of AmericaCCC Director Laila Muhammad said the purpose of rewarding the children with better attendance was to motivate the younger children in particular to ask their parents to take them to school.
“For the younger children, it is up to the parents to take the kids to school. If the parent is sick or too busy, they might not take the child,” Ms. Muhammad said. “We want to get the kids excited to go so they will say, ‘Mom, please take me to school!'”
Ms. Muhammad said that Zakat Foundation of AmericaCCC will be opening this summer’s Creative Camp, a series of weekend arts classes, to children at Bouchet.
“When you talk about anti-violence initiatives, it is important to get kids off the street, but also doing something creative that helps them grow and have better self-esteem,” Ms. Laila said.
Zakat Foundation of AmericaCCC will also participate in the Summer Seamless Lunch Program, making lunches available to low-income neighborhood children when school is out and their access to free or reduced school lunch is cut off.
“You have to look at the whole person,” Ms. Muhammad said. “Children who are hungry all the time, with no one to keep track of how they are doing, no positive outlet to express their feelings and thoughts; those kids are going to turn to violence. We need to feed their bodies, minds and souls.”
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