Local organizations takes a look at teens’ ‘koncerns’

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Earlier this month, children of all ages danced under a large tent in a wide, grassy lot located on the side of the Lake Grove Village Housing Complex. The lot, at 35th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, began to fill with neighborhood residents and support

Earlier this month, children of all ages danced under a large tent in a wide, grassy lot located on the side of the Lake Grove Village Housing Complex. The lot, at 35th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, began to fill with neighborhood residents and supporters in anticipation of the Center of Higher Development’s “We T.A.L.K” Teen Summit.

We T.A.L.K (Teens Addressing Life’s Koncerns) was organized by the non-profit community service organization in an effort to give teens involved in its programs an opportunity to ask questions and receive honest answers about the issues they face that are not often addressed.

“We had been trying to come up with different things that our older kids would like to do,” said Qiana Gillespie, the summit organizer and site manger for Lake Grove Village Housing Complex. “One of the things they said is ‘we just want to talk about the things that bothers us’, and that’s how this came about.”

The roster for the June 10 summit included Na-Tae’ Thompson, co-founder of a local teen-produced magazine, True Star. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, whose Magic Johnson Foundation teamed up with Hewitt Packer Associates to provide computers for The Center of Higher Development’s computer labs, was scheduled to speak as well. The speaker line up changed when Johnson sent his regrets at the last minute and was unable to make it to the event. Nevertheless, his foundation’s contributions to the organization were honored during the program.

The Center of Higher Development was founded in 1992 by Rev. Walter Gillespie of Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church and was a small after school program for neighborhood latchkey children run out of the church’s basement. Today, after teaming up with the Chicago Community Development Corporation as one of its service providers, the Center of Higher Development has expanded to 13 locations within city housing complexes.

The sites have computer labs, and do workforce development and GED training. Participants range in age from 5 to 65.

“It started as a passion,” said Center of Higher Development founder and executive director, Walter Gillespie, when asked what started this initiative. “I have a strong passion for seeing lives change.”

Gillespie said events like the summit show growth in the organization and he’s excited to see more.

“Our goal is to have a computer center in every underserved community in the city of Chicago,” said Gillespie.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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