Making it through the summer

attachment(Photo by Krista Wortendyke)

By Suzanne McBride

School’s been out not quite three weeks, and Larry is bored.

“Same old, same old.” That’s how Larry describes summer vacation so far.

Bryan chimes in: “This weekend went so slow,” so he was looking forward to today.

Today was the meeting held July 2 at Tilden Career Community Academy, where the two boys just finished their freshmen year. So did Jabarria and Shonkela, the two other teens at the meeting.

The point of the meeting is to kick off a project documenting how the four teens are spending their summer, how they’re navigating the streets of Chicago’s South Side, where too many teens are dying from gun violence.

One of their classmates and friends, 14-year-old Endia Martin, was shot to death after school April 28 just a few blocks south of Tilden.

It’s the reason many of you may know Tilden and the teens who go there. But there’s much more to know about these young people.

And that’s why we’ve asked Bryan, Jabbaria, Larry and Shokela to give us a window into their lives. They’ll be recording their thoughts and also interviewing others. They may take some pictures and hopefully some video, too.

One of the first events the teens will be documenting is Independence Day. It’s a holiday that many look forward to – a time for barbequing,  hanging out with friends and family, and watching – or setting off – fireworks.

But for Jabbaria, it’s a time of anxiety, something she wants to pass quickly.

“I’m waiting for the 4th of July to be over. I’m scared because I can’t tell the difference between guns and fireworks,” she says.

Bryan jumps into the conversation: “Guns are faster.”

One of the reasons he and Larry are bored already seems pretty basic to them but completely foreign to others: keeping safe.

And to do that, “you need to be indoors. Every block you go on there’s a gang,” Bryan says.

Keep reading Tilden’s America to find out what summer is like for Bryan, Larry, Jabarria and Shonkela. What they have to tell you may surprise you. It will certainly enlighten.


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