Youth across Chicago’s more marginalized urban communities face a number of challenges including issues of limited access to resources, low levels of positive adult involvement, drugs, gangs, and violence. These issues are compounded for Muslim youth who are also confronted by the lack of culturally sensitive institutions that can effectively engage and organize them to address these issues.
IMAN is addressing this issue through its youth-led organizing component, and supplementing it through its intergenerational organizing and youth development work. Below are a few of our yearly programs.
IMAN’s Youth Forums
IMAN’s Youth Forums are geared to provide space for youth from the larger Muslim and local community to build strong relationships and become more aware of issues youth face in their communities. IMAN’s Youth Forums overall theme is Health & Wellness and will consist of guest speakers, movies, performances, and general discussion to educate youth about what healthy lifestyles can look like in their community. The overall goal is to allow youth from across the city and different backgrounds to build relationships, have their own space to learn, and become actively engaged with IMAN’s overall work.
Drumming and Storytelling
Drumming and storytelling is an arts program that specifically teaches youth ages 15 to 21 the skills of drumming. Youth will come together once a week with an instructor to learn how to drum through telling stories and learning about each other’s backgrounds. Youth will develop drumming, speaking, and inter-personal skills trough weekly interaction with a professional drummer and their peers.
Friday Movie Nights
Friday Movie Nights is a collaboration of Cease Fire, S.W.O.P., and IMAN to provide space for youth from the local community to come together and watch educational movies that deals with their day to day activities in the community. Each movie will end with conversation and discussion about the film and how can they help improve their community. To have a consistent space for 25 to 30 youth every Friday for direct leadership cultivation.
Digital Media Lab 2.0
Digital Media Lab 2.0 is a program that teaches youth ages 13 to 19 how make their own documentaries and film. Each youth will be provided a stipend for their participation in the program, field trips are included and guest speakers are invited. This allows young people to create their own and accurate media about their identities and the communities they live in. To develop 20 youth leaders with skills in creating documentaries and work with IMAN’s Communications department.
Each One, Teach One
Each One Teach One is a program developed and organized by IMAN’s Youth Council which engages youth on various frontiers and provides a platform through which youth learn from other youth.
Pillars of IMAN
Pillars of IMAN seeks to develop youth into effective community leaders, who can help to facilitate social change in our communities and give back to the greater society through individualized mentorships and weekly programming.
Digital Media Masters
Through Digital Media Masters, our career development initiative works to bridge the digital divide often found in low-income neighborhoods. The program empowers students to create and distribute digital media through the Internet using the latest tools, techniques and open-source software. Such skills will be highly useful in allowing communities to create their own streams of income as well as imparting marketable job skills for further career development.
IMAN Youth Council
The IMAN Youth Council (IYC) began in late 2007 out of a summer-long research and needs-assessment program entitled Blue Prints. During the Blue Prints internship, twelve youth organized around issues such as violence, drug abuse and teen pregnancy. Among the twelve individuals, some interns felt particularly passionate about carrying out the same work that was done during the program in a more formalized setting. Therefore, we came up with the IMAN Youth Council, also known as IYC. As a Council, we are involved in leadership workshops, mentor programs, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, human rights conferences and educational issues. Overall, our mission is to provide a space to discuss the various problems and difficulties youth face on the Southwest Side of Chicago, and find ways to creatively tackle these issues as individuals and together as a Council. In addition to this, the Council was created as a way to harbor strong relationships, and engage ourselves in various projects – from Arts & Culture to Project Restore – together in order to build an everlasting youth-lead foundation that can serve as an agent of change for a better tomorrow.
What We Do
The IMAN Youth Council (IYC) and its members play many different roles and accomplish many different tasks in IMAN. In addition to being an active member of the IMAN organization as a whole, each Youth Council member has the responsibility to reach out and set an example for the youth that come through IMAN’s doors. The Youth Council’s role, in addition to programming specific to the youth, is also to provide a youth perspective and youth incorporative approach to many of the ideas, initiatives and events within IMAN. Finally, another function of the Youth Council is to simply ensure a youth presence within the IMAN organization and community, which is critical because of the great importance of the youth presence within any community.