Kids participate in day of service during spring forward event on West Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- This Good Friday is also a day of service for many young people as students gathered on the city's West Side to beautify green spaces in the Austin neighborhood.

While some kids spend their spring break relaxing, 6th grader Agustin Cervantes is doing for others.

"I like helping and as I'm helping, I get to learn more," Cervantes said.

The 12-year old is among dozens of Chicago area students participating in Austin's spring forward event Friday.

It's hosted by project exploration, in conjunction with the City of Chicago's "My Chi, My Future" initiative that supports stem education for neighborhood kids.

"To us, it's really important to ensure that our kids recognized what the traditions have been in our history, so we're making sure all those things are exposed to young people," said Natasha Smith-Walker, executive director of Project Exploration.

This year's day long effort by the 23-year-old organization provided activities at two locations.

Kids not only beautified the green spaces outside of Bethel New Life Church, where the stem group's hub is, but they also got to learn something new.

That's what 9-year-old Jaylen Wilson did.

"I'm having fun being here," Wilson said.

These girls even built a prototype for a robotic arm.

And over at Columbus Park, teens bonded through basketball and got to connect to the neighborhood through artistic expression.

"The art project's theme is: Love in Austin," said Janeicia Williams, community liaison for Project Exploration. "So everybody's going to be drawing things about who they love, what they love or what they love about Austin."

Summer jobs opportunities and community activity signups were also made available.

While all those who participated will have their generosity rewarded with free tickets to a concert at Navy Pier, for some, the chance to give back to their communities was enough.

"I love doing it," Cervantes said.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.