Thousands of Little Village residents of all walks of life, abilities, and experiences came together today Thursday July 24th, 2014 to celebrate our Little Village community on Universidad Popular’s (UP) block of 28th st. between Ridgeway and Hamlin Ave. Building Blocks of Peace, as the series of block parties is called, strives to inform and educate community residents of the importance of keeping an active and vibrant community. Focused on street closures to open up spaces that give kids and adults supervised spaces to enjoy outdoor activities such as sports, games, and dancing UP has joined with the City of Chicago and the Department of Public Health to host some of this year’s “PlayStreets” planned in various communities.
Our participants, youth, community members, and facilitators were directly involved in the planning, coordinating, and implementing of this block party. In the span of four hours neighbors had a chance to participate in healthy activities such as yoga, zumba, and dancing; youth and children had the opportunity to play soccer, basketball, practice their riding skills in a bike rodeo, paint to their heart’s desires, enjoy cooking, face painting, and an exhilarating game of water balloon toss.
Aside from the countless number of fun and healthy activities, we also hosted a teach-in celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act’s 24th anniversary. Differently abled community members shared their life stories and spoke about the issues facing their community in Chicago. Several of the speakers mentioned to us that this was the first time they had the opportunity to speak in a public event about the issues that mattered to them. It is especially this type of space that Universidad Popular seeks to create in all of its events and programs: an inclusive space where residents can teach and learn from each other while discussing and creating solutions and projects that matter to them collectively and cooperatively.