Chicago teens fulfill Rahm's cultural vision

Chicago teens fulfill Rahm's cultural vision
After School Matters provides Chicago's teenagers with cultural activities and more.

At the 2012 Chicago Dancing Festival, Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted Chicago as becoming the "dance capital of the world." In many ways that's probably true, and Chicago's next generation of dancers are making it happen.

Earlier this month a group of Chicago teens had the chance to meet with choreographer Alonzo King and his dancers from LINES Ballet to pick their brains about the world of dance. The kids participate in a program called After School Matters, a nonprofit that offers Chicago high schoolers "high quality, out-of-school opportunities to explore and develop their talents, while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond."

I love After School Matters. Someone very close to me participates in the program, and as a sophomore in high school she has already had the chance to explore physical art and cooking, and now she is learning how to be a multimedia journalist in a simulated newsroom. How cool is that? Aside from my personal connection to the program, I've come across After School Matters artwork across the city, including some on display at O'Hare airport. You can literally see how the program impacts the city.

The LINES Ballet opportunity is one of many that kids will have the chance to experience with a new partnership between Harris Theater and After School Matters.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Harris Theater to expose Chicago teens to real-world professionals and world-class experiences like this performance,” said Mary Ellen Caron, CEO, After School Matters. “It provides a concrete example of how a young person can turn passion into success.”

After School Matters was born from Maggie Daley's vision to provide cultural activities for the city's teenagers. She famously said: "because after school really does."

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