'We shed the light on our community': Teens go on unity bike ride through West Side neighborhoods

ByMaher Kawash WLS logo
Sunday, May 21, 2023
Teens go on unity bike ride through West Side communities
The annual Bike Out Negativity event offers an outlet to for teens in North Lawndale and Little Village to stay away from Chicago violence.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of people are trying to change the narrative on Chicago's West Side by coming together on Saturday to Bike Out Negativity.

"I believe this is a positive thing. It isn't doing anything but bringing positive energy, bringing people together to know what unity looks like," said Derek Brown Jr., who lives in North Lawndale.

Children in Lawndale hopped on bikes, using the annual event as an outlet to stay away from violence.

"To give them an outlet like this, to give them constructive to do, something that comes back year after year, and they can look forward to, and it grows bigger and bigger, I think that's an amazing thing," said Tarella Crawford.

People of all ages in the community gathered near St. Agatha Church, enjoying some music, snacks and special time with their neighbors. They capped off the party with everyone taking a ride through North Lawndale and Little Village.

"A lot of these children come from a part of the community where it's called 'the hood.' This is not the hood. This is the neighborhood, and this is what neighbors are supposed to be doing," said Derek Brown, the founder of Boxing Out Negativity.

The organizers said this is the nicest weather they've ever had for the event, adding that it's really special to see how much this has grown over the years. It started with just 13 people a few years ago, and now, hundreds of people bring a true sense of community to North Lawndale.

"It spreads awareness. It lets people know there are safe places to go and hangout at, and not have to worry about gun violence or brutality," said Jessikah-Rae, who lives in the area.

Teens across the community said events like this make them proud to live on the West Side.

"It's tough, especially in this community, and hosting this event shows that our community is positive. We shed the light on our community," said Terrence Ward.