I write for a living, and not just in this space. I also get to write for Chicago Parent and that includes writing about events and activities for families and kids of all ages held in and around Chicago. Those posts are informational (at least, I like to think that they are), but in writing them I've gained deeper insight into some of what makes Chicago a pretty amazing place to raise a family.
Don't get me wrong, this city is far from perfect, as the world knows. Chicago has deep-seated problems, and some of them are making national headlines.
What is not making the headlines, however, is some of the magic that this city holds for our kids. And in looking at all that is offered, I'm aware that this city makes it possible to be a well-rounded kid. There's something for everyone.
There are free classes for tweens and teens at the Art Institute of Chicago. I love that one of the world's renowned museums works to cultivate creativity among Chicago kids. In fact, teens who live in Chicago get free admission this year. That means that all minors in the city can wander among masterpieces by Picasso and O'Keefe and El Greco and Monet and so many more for free, every single day. The Art Institute says on its website: "Teen Programs at the Art Institute provides spaces for you to make art, build community with other creative youth, hang out in the museum, work with artists and mentors, and discover new possibilities for your future."
Science-loving adolescents have some wonderful opportunities, such as the Teen Learning Lab at the Shedd Aquarium, which allows kids to conduct their own experiments using the aquarium's equipment and technology, as well as exploring careers in aquatic science, all for free. They can also become Shedd Stewards and work with other teens to improve habitats in the area.
The theater scene is fantastic. Taking my teen to see Hamilton: An American Musical was an incredible experience for both of us, something that we could experience only here in Chicago or in New York. But it's not about being a passive audience member. The amazing theater scene that not only means amazing shows to see, but with many, many companies that offer programs and performances for students, and a thriving scene for home schoolers.
These are just a few examples; I am flooded with more memories of the amazing opportunities my daughter has had in Chicago, from programs in libraries, parks, schools, gardens, musical institutions, and more. I am grateful to the countless people who worked hard to make them available and who made them enjoyable for both her and for me.
What strikes me is that the city's institutions gives tweens and teens a chance to really get involved. Kids here can try, explore, create and get truly hands on. They give them experience, and a chance to discover new talents. There are so many wonderful possibilities. Chicago believes in its children. That gives them hope for what they can be in the future, and that should give us all hope.
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