Youth Program at Centro Sin Fronteras

--Robert Lopez

Centro Sin Fronteras has been a community institution over the past two decades. fighting the social injustices that affect the future of thousands of families that are in danger of being separated by issues such as 2451 and gentrification. Another step in the right direction being developed by Sin Fronteras is the formation of a new and improved Youth Program that was organized under the encouragement and guidance of Rev. Walter (Slim) Coleman. Recognizing the fact that the youth are the future of our community, a youth program was a natural in the progression of the struggle.

A project to decorate and beautify the defaced walls around the community lead to a discovery of talent among the teens that frequent the center. Street artists that are referred to as "taggers" usually have to run the streets in shadows because it is a crime to deface public property. The youth program has formed a group of artists known as the West Town Urban Arts Project as a way for youth to express themselves as well as a means to display their artform of graffiti with the support of the community.

The project is accomplishing its goal by completing a series of murals that portray cultural themes mixed with street flavor and it has been done from scratch. This program is functioning basically by using old paint, supplies and space that is donated by local artists, hardware stores and residents.

Director of the youth program Salvador Alvarez, overseeing the project, says: "We give kids a chance to show off their talents in their own communities with limited resources and a lot of work." I was able to see some of the projects that are in progress as well as those that are finished and considering that these are kids that are facing the pressures of growing up as well as the violence that occurs around their neighborhoods they show an appreciation for their work because of the time and effort that is put into each project. When asked what direction the program plans to take, the most memorable response to me as a journalist came from one of the artists, who said, "I like it more because I'm learning different styles of art, and you never know, one of us might be the next Michelangelo or Picasso."

This attitude came after they were given a chance to show off their skills.

If you would like to be a part in the growth of this program by giving donations or supplies, you can contact Salvador Alvarez at 773.772.8383 or visit Centro Sin Fronteras at 1205 N. Milwaukee Avenue.

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