Week One Team South Chicago: Ashele Speaks

            This week was full of building new relationships with the high school students and the other mentors as we explored South Chicago. The first day of the week our group spent the time making life maps and playing name games to get to know each other. I was slightly anxious before meeting the students because I didn’t know how the group dynamics would play out, but by the end of the day all of my anxiety was washed away and replaced with excitement for the weeks to come as I slowly got to know Ashele, Asia, Jada, and Salvador. Tuesday we met with a Chronic Care Nurse and a Prenatal Nurse as they told us about their work and their experiences with health disparities in South Chicago. Our group had a strong emotional response to the high rates of premature births among African American women and the lack of healthcare coverage in underprivileged populations. We also received a tour of Chicago Family Health Center and ran into Doctor Jones as she was working. Thursday, we walked over to New Sullivan K-8 school and interviewed Principal McCoy who was extremely passionate about getting parents to be involved in the school system to improve student outcomes. Next, Ashele, Asia, Jada, and Salvador led the students who were in a summer program at New Sullivan through a series of team building activities. I was extremely proud of how the students stepped up to take a leadership role so quickly during the program. There are still many ways that we can work on leadership throughout the program, but they all did a really great job for it being only the first week! I can’t wait to see how the leadership skills they learn will be applied to our final project. Go Team South Chicago!

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