'Young Men's Survival Summit' aims to push back on violent Chicago summer

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A thousand feet above Michigan Avenue, about 50 young men are boxing. Many for the first time.

It's part of the "Young Men's Survival Summit" organized by the community group, My Block, My Hood, My City.

The 24-hour-long event is aimed at giving young men from violent, underserved neighborhoods in Chicago a fighting chance this summer.

"If you show people better, they'll do better," said Jahmal Cole, the group's founder. "In order to survive, we have to give them physical, social, emotional training."

For Cole, that means much more than just boxing.

"A lot of individuals here discovered themselves and figured out what they need to work on in their lives and what areas they were struggling in," said Dean Hastings, a teen who attended the summit.

Participants spent the day learning skills such as how to dress for an interview and how to cook a healthy meal.

Javier Pacheco, who attended the event, said he noticed that all summit participants shared similar difficulties in their neighborhoods, no matter how close or far away they live.

"It's important to know that we all have these struggles and it's important to communicate with each other and learn that we can get through these struggles together," Pacheco said.

The event came to a close early the following day, allowing the young men to view their city in the light of a new morning with new possibilities.

"A very life changing experience," said summit attendee Kewhawn George. "Especially coming from a part of the city where it's a lot of negativity."

"Made me feel happy - all of the negativity going away," said Brian Wnek, another participant. "I can take a deep breath and just look at the beautiful view."

To learn more about My Block, My Hood, My City, head here: https://www.formyblock.org/

Building a Better Chicago is an ongoing series of ABC7 Eyewitness News reports spotlighting the people and groups working toward solutions and improvements across our area. If you know of someone who is Building A Better Chicago, contact ABC7 here.
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