Tipping Point: `Club One` helps improve safety for young student

Tipping Point: `Club One` helps improve safety for young students

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Some Chicago neighborhoods are at a tipping point, where getting home safe from school is a daily worry for kids.

Gangs, drugs and dropping out can put dreams of success out of reach. But as FOX 32's Robin Robinson explains, in some parts of the city, an old club is providing new hope.

"I want to be able to walk home and be safe... I don't want any more of my friends to die... All I really want more than anything is to live to see tomorrow," said children from a video called 'Know Peace.'

In the video, the Union League Boys and Girls Clubs featured its own members as a reminder of why the clubs are here.

"Club One" was founded in 1919 and the first built. Now, there are six locations in Chicago.

In the heart of Pilsen, a newly renovated building stands as a safe haven for kids every afternoon. Playing basketball is just part of the action that takes place there.

"It's all about teamwork and helping each other out," said 8th grader Karina Torres

"Play pool, play ping pong, do an art project, that sort of stuff," said 7th grader Nicolas Yepez.

"Our main emphasis is kinda' like parents where you're sneaking the vegetables into the sauce," said Emilia Nichols, Director of Club Services.

Those so-called "vegetables" are the core values of the Boys and Girls Clubs, starting with academic success.

So, while the kids come for the fun, they're also getting lessons in reading and science.

"They're building little machines, little animals, they're connecting a usb to the lego, and they're using the computer to program it," said Nichols.

Dance instructor Edson Cabrera is also teaching health and fitness at the same time.

"Dance is not only dance. Dance is training, train your body, keep your body in good shape…I need to transfer this feeling to the kids," said Cabrera.

And of course, the most important lesson of all being to believe in yourself.

"I'm smarter than people think I am... I wanna be an engineer... I wanna be president...but first we have to learn how to live peacefully with each other," said children from the video 'Know Peace.'

"Gang violence, of course, is such a prevalent problem right now, by all of our clubs really. We have a lot of gang intervention programs, we also offer a lot of violence prevention," said Nichols. "Right now we'd like to see our numbers double. I mean, we've got room, we've got staff, we've got kids, we have a community need, why not! We're here with open arms."

Club membership is for kids ages 6 to 18 and costs five dollars a year. Most of the operating funds come from corporate and individual donations.

For more information about how you can join, or how you can help, click HERE.

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