The Chicago Journal

Chicago Nonprofit “This is Life” Warms Up Winter for the City’s Youth

A Caring Initiative to Keep Chicago’s Youth Warm

As the temperatures in Chicago steadily drop and the gusty winds announce the arrival of winter, the comfort of warm coats and layered clothing becomes a privilege that many of us take for granted. However, this is far from the reality for a significant portion of Chicago’s population, especially its youth. This season, their plight has not gone unnoticed, thanks to the compassionate endeavors of the Chicago nonprofit “This is Life.”

A Warmth-Driven Mission

Motivated by the pressing need to ensure that every young resident of Chicago has access to adequate winter clothing, “This is Life” has embarked on a heartwarming mission. Their objective is simple yet profound: to provide free coats to the city’s youth. In doing so, they hope to spread the warmth of community care and ensure that young Chicagoans are kept snug and secure during the approaching winter months.

Natalie Manning, the co-founder and executive director of “This is Life,” passionately emphasizes the significance of this noble endeavor. She states, “As we gear up for winter, I wanted to incorporate the opportunity to provide free coats for youth as well, to make sure to keep them warm throughout the year. Because you know, sometimes kids don’t have the opportunity, or parents don’t have the means to be able to get as many coats as they may need throughout the year. Our goal is to bridge this gap and provide a safety net of warmth for our city’s youth.”

Beyond Coats – A Holistic Approach

This initiative goes beyond the generous distribution of coats. It extends a holistic helping hand to the community. Alongside the warmth-giving outerwear, local barbers have joined the cause, offering haircuts and styling services. For those interested in haircuts, registration is required to ensure that everyone can benefit from this additional service. In this way, “This is Life” is not only ensuring physical warmth but also boosting the self-esteem and confidence of young participants.

Dates and Locations

The heartwarming event is scheduled for Saturday, October 28th, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Absolutely Anything Essential Gift Shop, located at 3521 S. King Drive in Bronzeville. This convenient location is at the heart of the community, making it easily accessible to those in need. And the goodwill doesn’t stop there. Another similar event will be held on November 10th, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Shine Bright, 8560 S Cottage Grove Ave. in Chatham. By organizing these events at different times and locations, “This is Life” ensures that as many young residents as possible have the chance to benefit from this gesture of kindness.

This Is Life: Empowering Youth through the Performing Arts

Beyond these compassionate endeavors, “This is Life” is not just any nonprofit; it’s an organization with a broader mission. They are dedicated to empowering young people who are pursuing their dreams in the performing arts. By fostering creativity and talent in the community, they aim to enrich the lives of Chicago’s youth and provide them with opportunities to excel in the world of performing arts.

Youth E-Cigarette Usage Declines Amid Regulatory Action

Government Initiatives Yield Positive Outcomes

In a welcome turn of events, the use of e-cigarettes among high school students in the United States has shown a remarkable decrease. This significant shift can be attributed to the proactive measures taken by the government against companies that market illicit vape products, which have been alluring to young individuals. These initiatives reflect the government’s dedication to safeguarding the health of the nation’s youth.

Insights from the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey

The 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey has brought to light some noteworthy findings regarding e-cigarette consumption among high school students. The data reveals a considerable drop in e-cigarette usage, with the percentage declining from 14.1% in 2022 to a commendable 10% in 2023. This reduction equates to approximately 580,000 fewer high schoolers engaging in e-cigarette use. Such statistics highlight the positive impact of regulatory actions.

Aiding the Overall Decline in Tobacco Use

In addition to the encouraging decrease in e-cigarette use, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have noted a broader trend. Overall tobacco smoking among this demographic has reached an all-time low, indicating that the measures implemented are bearing fruit. The current use of any tobacco product by high school students has decreased by an estimated 540,000 students, declining from 2.51 million in 2022 to 1.97 million in 2023. These numbers underscore the success of efforts to reduce tobacco consumption among the younger generation.

Public Health Victory

The director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Brian King, expressed his optimism, stating, “It’s encouraging to see this substantial decline in e-cigarette use among high schoolers within the past year, which is a win for public health.” This sentiment underscores the broader implications of this decline, as it represents a notable step forward in safeguarding the well-being of the nation’s youth.

Long-Standing E-cigarette Dominance

E-cigarettes have been the dominant tobacco product among both high school and middle school students for an entire decade. This extended reign underscores the need for ongoing vigilance and regulation in this area. It is notable, however, that while there were no significant alterations in e-cigarette use among middle schoolers (grades 6 to 8) from 2022 to 2023, there was an increase in the current overall tobacco product use, rising from 4.5% to 6.6% among middle school students. This shift underscores the importance of a multi-faceted approach to address tobacco use among adolescents.

Ongoing Battle Against Unregulated Vaping Devices

The battle to curb e-cigarette usage among the nation’s youth continues to be a primary focus for U.S. health regulators. The challenge has intensified with the influx of new vaping devices from abroad, circumventing existing tobacco regulations. Notably, the Chinese brand Elf Bar, banned by the FDA, remains available on store shelves. This highlights the need for more comprehensive international cooperation to address the regulatory challenges posed by the global nature of the vaping industry.

Leading Culprits in Youth E-cigarette Use

The report identifies the most commonly reported brands among students currently using e-cigarettes. Elf Bar emerges as the leading brand at 56.7%, followed by Esco Bars, Vuse, JUUL, and Mr. Fog. These insights provide a valuable understanding of the specific products that have been appealing to young consumers, aiding in the development of targeted regulatory measures.

Safety Concerns Persist

Despite the positive trends in reduced tobacco and e-cigarette use, the report emphasizes the continued unsafe nature of youth tobacco product use. This serves as a vital reminder that while progress has been made, there is still work to be done to protect the well-being of young individuals.

Commitment to Youth Health

King’s reiteration of the FDA’s commitment to combating youth tobacco product use is reassuring. He emphasizes the agency’s willingness to employ an array of enforcement tools to protect the health of the nation’s youth. This dedication underlines the ongoing commitment to regulatory action and public health.

Regulatory Measures in Action

Over the past year, the FDA has issued hundreds of warning letters to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of unauthorized e-cigarettes, including several distributors of Elf Bar. These actions showcase the tangible steps taken to enforce regulations and prevent the distribution of products that pose a risk to young individuals.

REAP Upholds Mission to Empower Youth, Maintains Momentum Throughout Transition to Virtual Space

Empowering the youth is crucial to having a bright future, and REAP is ensuring that everyone gets their fair chance of gaining the leadership training they need to excel in whatever and whoever they choose to be. Founded in 2001, the nonprofit organization is on a mission to ignite, elevate, and engage youth worldwide by exposing them to new people and possibilities, enriching their perspective by broadening their horizons, and shaping them to be well-rounded members of their communities. 

REAP is a year-round multicultural youth leadership program that aims to empower and raise the next wave of leaders that will shape the world. The program was established to build and elevate communities by working with students in grades 3rd through 12th, especially those coming from marginalized student populations. REAP carries out its mission through civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and cooperative management for them to hone a better future. Over the years, the program has equipped more than 1000 students every year and has been playing an active role in seeing that the youth reaches their maximum potential through innovative methods of instilling leadership.

In its recent transition to the virtual setting, REAP focused on maximizing the strengths of its ideologies and adapting to the virtual world without compromising or leaving any detail to chance. REAP has relied on donations to carry out its initiatives for students to nurture their leadership potential, and it continued to do so when it pivoted its programs to the virtual space. Although the leap has been costly, REAP did its best to ensure that the program still delivers nothing but the best for its students.

“Donations play an integral role in helping us to maintain, develop, and strengthen the quality of our online offerings,” shared Charity Brown of REAP. 

In addition, REAP aims to maintain the traction it has garnered among communities and further expand its reach now that they have engaged with the digital space. The program has served students across multiple locations, and the chances of it doing more now with the virtual setting carries a high possibility. Virtual leadership programs have been proven as effective as physically executed programs, and REAP is justifying the idea further as it teaches students to elevate their voices, empower youth leaders with a global mindset, expand their innovation towards entrepreneurship, and engage them in cooperative management.

“Finding purpose and intention is challenging when you’re uninspired,” shared Charity Brown, when asked why empowerment should be coupled with inspiring students to push themselves beyond their self-imposed boundaries. “However, purpose and intention can be significant driving factors that propel students to success, making it vital to launch the next wave of leaders.”

The global pandemic has greatly contributed to REAP’s decision to switch to virtual modes of learning after seeing how it heightened racism, poverty, inequity, and social justice.

“There’s so much work to be done, and much of it, moving forward,” said Charity Brown.

REAP highlights that everyone can make a difference and contribute to global developments once equipped with the right tools and leadership mindset. 

Over the next five years, REAP aims to implement a nationwide leadership program across schools and a range of students through a comprehensive online leadership academy. The organization also targets to help disadvantaged youth across the globe, specifically in Africa, India, and the Middle East.

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How A Better Chance for Youth Inc. Has Been Providing Scholars With the Opportunity to Enter Colleges

Access to education is a right that should be granted to everyone, but the situation in America shows that the country is still experiencing an inequality for minorities. Monique S. Robinson, someone who has witnessed and experienced this inequality, has been advocating strongly for a change in this system with her organization, A Better Chance for Youth Inc.

Like the situation over the past decades, minorities today experience the same educational segregation. Despite getting similar results as their fellow students, students of color are less likely to get the same opportunity to be placed in advanced classes.

Monique Robinson sought to make a change in the system. To begin her journey to promote higher learning, she took up psychology at Wilberforce University. By understanding psychological science and applying its practices, she would be better prepared for the long journey ahead of her. After completing the program and earning her degree, she went on to receive an MEd in education leadership and an EdS in education leadership.

With all the right tools at her disposal, Monique Robinson founded a nonprofit organization called A Better Chance for Youth Futures Inc. Otherwise known as ABC Youth, the organization promotes higher learning for all scholars. They advocate for historically Black colleges and Universities.

For many families, especially those with children who have the apparent shine of a scholar, college is merely a dream. To many, it is not even an option. The organization wants to help them nurture the potential these scholars have.

While many organizations carry the same goals as A Better Chance for Youth, they stand out by not only reaching out to the family with the opportunity that they can give but also educating them about the process of securing the scholarships. 

A Better Chance for Youth does not just give young scholars this golden opportunity, but they also help the family select the best schools that they can go to. The organization helps these families find the financial support they need to get there.

Like most organizations, it was a complicated process when they started. However, they held on and stayed strong. The scholars that they helped began attending the schools they researched and recommended. Many of those scholars had even made it to graduate. This boosted their morale, and continued reaching out and helping.

Monique Robinson has been providing consulting services on grant writing, all while running A Better Chance for Youth. She has also written for test preparations to ready the scholars entering a new chapter in their lives and writing scholar preparation letters. 

In 2009, she received the honor of Teacher of the Year Award for Imagine Schools at the district and regional level for her contributions to education.

Having touched so many lives and helping scholars across the country, Monique Robinson hopes that families will know that college is not far from reach if they only trust the process. She is hopeful that A Better Chance for Youth will provide college tours and consult more families with scholarships and college support in the near future.

To know more about A Better Chance for Youth Inc, you may visit their website.