Leftover Olympic funds create summer opportunities for youth

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Funds left over from Chicago’s failed 2016 Olympic bid will help finance a quarter of a million programs this summer, aimed at keeping youth safe and busy during their summer break from school.

Funds left over from Chicago’s failed 2016 Olympic bid will help finance a quarter of a million programs this summer, aimed at keeping youth safe and busy during their summer break from school. Slightly more than $6 million raised from business community to help land the Olympics in Chicago have been granted to World Sport Chicago to launch several new athletic programs, Mayor Richard M. Daley recently announced.

“I want to remind our parents, teachers, government agencies, religious and community groups, the private sector and the news media that each of us have a responsibility to end the cycle of violence that plagues too many of our neighborhoods and takes our children from us,” the mayor said during a recent news conference at Howe elementary school.

World Sport Chicago was formed to provide competitive and recreational sports for youths as a way for children to gear up for the Olympic Games if held in Chicago. The organization will continue its commitment to nearly 12,000 of the city’s youth by offering archery, gymnastics, swimming, track, weightlifting and wrestling activities, among others, during the summer months.

The city hold its first annual Mayor’s Wrestling Festival at Navy Pier next month and WSC plans to run six wrestling camps in a partnership with CPS, the park district and the Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation.

The contact sport offers a constructive outlet to release aggressive that may be built up in some youth, according to Mike Urwin of the Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation.

“There’s no doubt that tension and aggression can be released through wrestling and other sports. We have a few clubs in Chicago schools, mostly private high schools, but we’ve been looking into getting more public schools in our program,” Urwin told the Defender.

Howe is the only public school in the city part of the IKWF, he said.

Daley said the new initiatives, along with existing ones, will be established as a “legacy of our Chicago 2016 efforts.”

In addition to WSC and its citywide partnerships, the Chicago Police Department’s Chicago Alternative Policing Strategies office continues to offer athletic activities through its Cops Interacting and Targeting Youth program.

“The program offers a different sports activity at four-to-six week intervals year-round. This summer, 350 youths will participate in bowling, golf, softball, swimming and volleyball,” said Officer Dennis Brown.

The controversial parking meter lease agreement will also help fund opportunities for youth. At least 500 jobs and other after school activities will be made possible from $1million of the meter deal’s proceeds, according to the mayor.

“We can’t be with our children every minute to keep them out of harm’s way. But we can create positive activities that give them an alternative to the streets and help set them on the right track in life,” said Daley.

Other summer initiatives include:

• The Chicago Park District’s “Once Upon a Day Camp” activity guide with 30 days of activities focused on summer reading.

• Chicago Public Library and Art Institute of Chicago partnership of “Reading is Art-Rageous” program.

 Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender.

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