In a year when 32 Chicago Public School (CPS) students have been killed due to violence, 125 very special Chicago teens have been recognized for their roles in building their community in a positive way.
The young people were honored as part of the 16th Heroes in the ‘Hood award program, held April 2 at the DuSable Museum of African American History. The initiative pays tribute to individuals and groups of teenagers who give back in various ways to help support and improve their neighborhoods.
This year, the program also recognized Kenyatta Stansberry, principal of Harper High School in West Englewood, with the first “Stop the Violence” award. Stansberry reduced the number of fights in her school by 200 percent by personally getting involved in student conflicts and encouraging young people to solve their problems peacefully.
“The recent tragedies in our schools make it even more important to recognize teens who are making a positive difference in their communities,” says John McCarthy, president of GO Airport Express and founder of the Heroes in the ‘Hood program. “They are the ones who should be making the evening news.”
Clarence McCray, 17, of Michele Clark Academic Preparatory Magnet High School, took top honors in the individual category for organizing a coat drive in his community and school. He created flyers and passed them out around his school, church and neighborhood. In just two weeks McCray collected more than 100 coats. He then distributed them at his church’s annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless.
“One women with four kids was so grateful, she cried,” says McCray. “I will never forget that and I hope to make the coat drive an annual event at my school.”
First place in the group category went to four students at Kelvyn Park High School. These students researched Chicago gangs for a class project. Their biggest discovery was a connection between gangs and strained youth-police relationships, which led them to set up a meeting with the local police commander. As a result of their meeting, the police chief came to speak to classes at Kelvyn Park and set up a police-sponsored youth soccer clinic in a local park.
Second place individual winner was Jade Stewart, 13, of Alice L. Barnard Elementary School, who collected shoes for the “Share Your Soles” organization; and taking third was Shantell Germany, 17, of Gage Park High School. She participated in a variety of programs, including volunteering with the mentally disabled, working with local senior citizens, and helping to clean up the Chicago River.
In the group category, second place went to 20th District Youth Group Explorers. These active community members are involved in an assortment of programs, including a peer jury, monthly “Victory over Violence” youth discussions, a Safety Fair, a Youth for Peace forum, rummage sales, car washes, bake sales, Multi-Cultural Festival, and visits to nursing homes. Third place went to Mr. Victor Harbison’s Civics Class at Gage Park High School, whose class project was to build a modern interactive memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., because he had led marches through their neighborhood in 1966.
The top winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to Springfield, Ill., compliments of GO Airport Express.
In addition to GO Airport Express, other sponsors of “Heroes in the ‘Hood” include Dominick’s, The Chicago Crusader, the DuSable Museum of African American History, and WCGI-FM/Clear Channel Radio Chicago. For more information call 312.666.6662. Founded in 1853 as the Parmelee Transportation Company, GO Airport Express currently transports more than one million passengers annually between O’Hare and Midway airports and downtown Chicago, its surrounding neighborhoods and most suburbs. Its shared-ride, door-to-door services are convenient, affordable and environmentally friendly: with six people on board, a van uses only 30 percent of the fuel that six cars would use and creates 54 percent fewer carbon emissions.
GO Airport Express is also a founding member of GO Group, LLC., a network of global ground transportation providers to better serve the needs of customers worldwide. To book ground transportation online visit www.airportexpress.com.