CHICAGO (WLS) — Dozens of students attended a summer safety summit Monday at Metro Farms, an urban farm in Humboldt Park.
Community leaders are offering students ways to stay safe after school this summer.
Each step within the farm, which houses different plants, vegetables and fish, is a chance to learn more and do better.
“We educate youth and seniors about healthy eating, change their eating habits and create a non-violent environment,” said Treana Johnson of the Urban Transformation Network at Metro Farms.
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For students like the 15-year-old, who said she was only eight when she was involved in a shooting, it’s an opportunity to escape what she describes as violence in her community.
“It really hit me that I could have lost my life. I could have lost family members,” Brown said. “The mindset is the strongest part of you. So if you believe that you can go out there and do something different instead of just trying to be what everyone else says you can’t be, then believe that you are more than what people say you are. ” that you are.”
They urge them to get summer jobs, take care of each other, stay away from guns and drugs, and keep their parents informed of their whereabouts.
They say that through farming you teach them that when you care about the food you put in your body and where the food comes from, you care more about the community and respect the value of life.
“We’re really trying to reach the youth. If we can reach the youth, we can reach the adults. That’s the connection,” said Donald Patterson, President and CEO of the Urban Transformation Network at Metro Farms. “As the seeds and the plants grow, you grow, so let’s try to connect the dots. Even violence is curbed by your diet, your food intake and what you put into your body, so let’s teach them how to farm. That’s where it starts.”
Local elected officials are also present at the summit, expressing their support for such programs.
“It just shows me that there are far better things than just being on the streets doing gangbangs,” said Majesty Barfield, 14. “They’re things you can actually do to actually make a good living , and indeed. Help the community.”
Organizers said the Humboldt Park site will be open throughout the summer to provide employment and security for young people during the season.
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