By The Hand Club for Kids brings youngsters downtown for a fine dining experience

CHICAGO (CBS) –You’ve probably eaten at a restaurant several times, but not everyone has.

CBS 2’s Steven Graves took us on a kids’ dining experience on Tuesday that caters to a special group of people.

There were full stomachs and hearts for all the young people who gathered around a table Tuesday at Maggiano’s, 516 N. Clark St. in River North.

“It’s something about that kind of camaraderie that we can remember,” said Davina Wilson, a counselor at the nonprofit By The Hand Club for Kids.

The food at Maggiano is good and the meatballs are big. But it’s the total experience that teenagers who visited on Tuesday will never forget.

“We do things, but like here — like stuff like dressing up and coming here and all that — no,” Mykiara Hodges said. “So I like that.”

Mykiara comes from the Altgeld Gardens community, in the far south of the city. She rarely comes downtown and the experience was a treat for her and a dozen other teenagers.

The non-profit organization By The Hand has taken students from Chicago’s South Side not only to Maggiano’s, but also to many other adventures and other dining establishments.

“It was like new foods that I hadn’t tried,” Mykiara said.

She liked steak and red rice, but wasn’t crazy about the octopus, which she described as “gooey”.

But Wilson says every dish and every drink serves a bigger purpose.

“You know, it’s faster to get Popeyes, McDonald’s or something like that – so have something like that for the kids – whether they’ve been through that before or not – it’s exposure,” Wilson said. . It’s to give an opportunity.”

Now, about two years into By The Hand’s NXT program for high schoolers, it’s helped Mykiara improve her grades. She is a college graduate and hopes to work with children.

And it all starts with exposure to another slice of life.

By The Hand’ also takes students to colleges and meet entrepreneurs.


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