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Youth in motion – from Hip Hop to soccer

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Young people get a lot of bad press, but with the support of community groups, many are seeking out positive paths in an increasingly difficult world.  Tomorrow two events – a hip hop festival and a soccer league gathering – highlight some of the alternatives.

The Pros Arts Studio’s Sixth Annual We R Hip Hop Festival [2] showcases local musicians, artists, breakdancers and poets in Pilsen and Little Village, emphasizing the noncommercial, positive aspects of hip-hop culture.

It takes place at Dvorak Park, 1119 W. Cullerton, from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 13.  It’s been organized by two teams of summer interns at Pros Arts Studio, one working on scheduling, logistics, and securing sponsorships, the other focused on promotion.

The goal is to promote peace, said teacher-artist Lizette Garza.  In addition to local performers with music stressing social messages — including the challenges faced by female hip-hop artists — there will be an auction of artwork by Pros Arts youth and breakdance and grafitti contests.

Pros Arts Studio [3] offers year-round programming in artistic disciplines ranging from photography to fiber arts, from breakdancing to circus arts; a weekly open studio offers opportunities to do drawing and aerosol art.

Kids from the studio’s circuit-bending workshop, who make new electoric instruments by reworking old components, will  participate in the Festival de Musica Electronica Latina, August 26 at the National Museum of Mexican Art.  A mural by studio youth promoting peace in the community was completed yesterday at 19th and Paulina.

Meanwhile, in McKinley Park, hundreds of children and teens will celebrate soccer league finals with medals and trophies.  The league is organized by the UNION Impact Center [4] of Back of the Yards, founded two years ago in his spare time by Rafael Yanez, a police officer who coordinates youth mentoring programs on the South Side for the department.

The volunteer-operated league offers a healthy alternative for young people who are at risk for gang violence and recruitment.  It’s part of a range of anti-violence activities offered by the center, with after-school programming including Quebradita dance classes, guitar lessons, and art and computer classes.

“Community involvement is the key to fighting crime,” Yanez told Alejandro Escalona in the Sun Times [5] recently – and the city has to do more to bring resources to help community groups do the work, he said.

The soccer league celebration takes place from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday, August 13, at McKinley Park, 2200 W. Pershing.