Teens paid to remove graffiti, paint murals in Little Village

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Some kids who typically get their kicks from tagging around the neighborhood are now being paid to remove graffiti and paint murals with permission. (WLS)

Neighbors in Little Village believe the best way to keep their streets safe is to flood them with positive activities during what could be the most violent times, so community groups are working together this summer to create what they call a "culture of peace."

Some kids who typically get their kicks from tagging around the neighborhood are now being paid to remove graffiti and paint murals with permission.

"I actually felt kind of better about it because we're doing it during the day and people say we're doing nice stuff how we're doing better stuff for the community," said Daniel Rios, 14.

It's part of an arts program run by the associate pastor at St. Agnes of Bohemia church in Little Village.

"Gang graffiti has a big impact on our whole community. Gang graffiti sometimes will trigger someone else to take another person right then and there. Our idea is to be putting up murals where there was gang graffiti beforehand. It changes the culture a little bit at a time," said Father Tom Boharis, St. Agnes of Bohemia.

It's one of several activities organized by local community groups whose aim is to keep youth out trouble.

"St. Agnes is one out of 11 partners that have come together for the Little Village Youth Safety Network. We are targeting approximately 350 to 400 at-risk youth in the neighborhood and engaging them in programs that range from arts-based programs like you see here, sports-based youth development organizations, youth mentoring, trauma-informed services and mental health counseling," said Kathryn Bocanegra, director of violence prevention, Enlace Chicago.

And there's something for everybody. Youth and adults tend to so-called "pocket parks." They reclaim vacant space to create gardens throughout the neighborhood.

"B-ball on the Block" sets up shop every Friday at a different intersection deemed a "hot spot." It provides youth with a constructive outlet in a safe "block party" atmosphere.

"It's for the kids, but it's also for the community to come out and say 'I have a part to play.' It's great to complain, but you need to get up and do something," said Pastor Victor Rodriguez, La Villita Community Church.

On Friday evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., "B-ball on the Block" is setting up at 25th and Keeler.

Additional information:
Http://www.lisc-chicago.org/news/2615
http://www.lisc-chicago.org/uploads/lisc-chicago-clone/documents/2014_hoops_schedule_7.23.14.pdf

Related Topics:
societygraffiticommunityartChicago - Little Village
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