Empowering The Next Generation: A Look Into The Woodlawn Youth Summit

Birthed out of an initiative, “Together We Can”, Donnell Williams brought The Woodlawn Youth Summit to life. Founded by Commander Watson of the Third District Police Department, the “Together We Can” initiative is a weekly meeting with the community that has the goal of creating collaborations that reduce and prevent violence in the Third District.

The theme of this year's youth summit was “Proper Preparation: Navigating My Summer Safely”. Donnell has invited youth from over 12 grammar schools and 3 high schools. A total of 20 vendors participated in this year's Youth Summit, providing needed resources for youth.

With over 80 young adults and young children in attendance, Sunshine gave them a sense of hope, excitement, and wanting to learn more about building success and the importance of education and community.

While the Woodlawn community constantly evolves, Sunshine’s goal is to bring awareness to our youth of the many opportunities they have in life. One of the most violent times in the city of Chicago is during the summer. Preparing youth for the summer is a key preventive aspect to ensuring that violence is reduced.
Upon arrival, we asked all the youth to write down a prayer request before the break-out sessions. During our break-out sessions, our young adults and youth were able to go around each booth to gain more information on our provided partners like Champs Mentoring, Project Hood, The Black Men Lawyer’s Association, and much more!

“ They stayed the entire time and were very attentive to what our guest speakers had to say. They wanted to be poured into that day on a Saturday morning” - Donnell Williams
The Youth Summit is only one aspect of what the Flourishing Community Initiative accomplishes in our community. FCI is committed to advancing trauma-informed approaches to gun violence through individual support, community collaboration, and advocacy. Our staff is dedicated to helping those who have been most impacted by gun violence- the victims of gun violence and their families.
Ultimately, the goal is to interrupt the cycle of retaliatory violence, which is one of the leading factors behind gun violence incidents in Chicago.  The FCI team does this by making sure people get counseling if they need it, helping them move to a safer place if necessary, finding non-violent solutions to feelings of revenge, and assisting with paperwork to get financial compensation. The program aims to make a positive impact in reducing gun violence and helping survivors and their families heal.

Next year, the Flourishing Community Initiative dreams of the youth summit growing to serve over 100 youth and growing to be a recurring event that youth look forward to in the Woodlawn community.

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