Nonprofit Dreams for Kids helps turn Chicago students into entrepreneurs

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two 16-year-old entrepreneurs are creating products that they hope will help people connect and offer greater representation as part of a Young Leaders Program in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.

The juniors at GCE Lab School have much in common, but they're also very different.

"I wanted to do everything myself because I'm a very hands-on person, and I want so much detail and so much of me in my brand," said Nissrine Bedda.

Nissrine designs a line of street clothing called Rue Maghreb, inspired by her strong Moroccan-Mexican roots.

Gimena Servin created a card game called "Husks" with a diverse cast of characters meant to offer something for everyone.

"I wanted to make something different," Gimena said. "Something that I hadn't personally seen in mainstream games, and what I thought of was a zombie card game."

Behind it all is attorney Tom Tuohy, the founder of nonprofit Dreams for Kids.

"Dreams for Kids came about primarily because of my mother. My number one role model," Tuohy said. "My father left our family when I was 8 years old. We lost our house. My mother was a single parent raising four children without any support."

Tuohy said he was "growing up to be a jerk."

"So I would have been that lawyer, the one everyone hates," Tuohy said.

But he didn't. At age 19, Tuohy met now Secretary of State Jesse White, who would go on to become a lifelong mentor.

"The moment I walked into Cabrini Green with Jesse White was the moment I stopped feeling sorry for myself," Tuohy said. "I realized I had something to give. I wasn't a victim and I could do something about it."

He said GCE Lab School allows students to learn "in an environment that they help create."

"In order to make social change and a global change, you need communication and you need a connection," Nissrine said. "I was never really into fashion, but if you do think about it, fashion really allows you to connect with somebody. It's the first thing you see when you go up to somebody."

Gimena said, "Coming into high school, I realized I was non-binary and going by the they/them pronouns. I just really feel under-represented in games, shows and video games, and I was thinking I have to do something about that."

For more information about Dreams for Kids, click here.

For more information about GCE Lab School, click here.

For more information about Nissrine's clothing line Rue Maghreb, click here.

For more information about Gimena's zombie card game, click here.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.