Prologue is having another Halloween party. Get ready to be bombarded with teenagers at your door. It will be worse this year because the public school students don't have school on Friday.
This email was sent out to members of my community. Wow, I thought Halloween was for giving treats out. There must be something I missed about Prologue or teenagers. Did these particular young people create havoc last year? My understanding from the flyer I received from Prologue director, Dr. Nancy Jackson was that Prologue was setting up a haunted graveyard and scary tunnel attraction in the parking lot of Prologue property and everyone was invited. I wanted to go but because of work asked my husband to attend and take lots of pictures. If these kids are horrors (maybe real zombies) we want to get this on film! I rather doubt this is the case.
I ran a program for teenagers for eleven years. In fact I ran a program for teenaged parents. I firmly believe that the definition of adolescent and teen age should be a period in human development in which insanity is normal. It’s a tough group and speaking of tough, 90% of the young people in my program were wards of the State. They had been abused, mistreated, gang involved, drug involved. You name it these kids were exposed to it. We did Halloween every year. In fact our program started taking them out to Eagle Ridge in Galena Illinois. Eagle Ridge put on a great haunted trail. Hard-assed teenagers were scared out of their wits, proving they were kids all the same. They were no different from the more “advantaged” in many ways. When they returned with the hauls from trick or treating they sat down and counted how many of their favorite candies were in their bags. They traded snickers for milky ways or sour apples for peanut butter cups. They even dunked for apples. What did set them apart from other teenagers were their life experiences. We had two beautiful girls in the program that saw a gang member beheaded on their front porch. Most of the girls were victims of sexual abuse. Some were third generation gang members. Who would have thought these kids would want to trick or treat? Fortunately our program director, our social workers and our agency thought it. These young people deserved a break.
Unfortunately, Dr. Nancy Jackson is facing the not in my backyard mentality. Oh we will talk about how our (minority) children need understanding, education, mentors, etc. but whatever you do, don’t do it in my neighborhood.
A few months ago I was engaged in a conversation with one of the community leaders who is a banner carrier for “not here”. He was going on about how providing bus service to ship the high school students from the local schools to their home communities wouldn’t work. He explained that the young people won’t take the buses. They prefer to stop at Mickey D or one of the other fast food places on 35th Street before heading home. I think I wrote about this conversation in another blog. Any way I asked what problems seemed to arise from the teens hanging out. His response was there were none. “The young people hang out in our neighborhood because it feels safe to them”, he explained. My next question of him ended the conversation. I asked then why do you not want the Prologue students in our community? My understanding is that they make a choice to attend this alternative school because they want to get their lives on track. He got in his car and pulled away.
So here are my suggestions. Bronzeville neighbors take your bags of treats down to the Prologue Halloween party. Meet the kids. Talk to them. Maybe ask Dr. Jackson if she will make a list of addresses that are contributing treats to the party with a caveat that students should not stop at these addresses. Put a sign on your door “We gave to the party, please enjoy, be safe and have a happy Halloween.”