A new youth and community center will soon open in the west end of Chicago. This is a major project by the non-profit organization BUILD that could be a game-changer for young people in the region.
The installation is taking shape at the corner of Harrison Street and Laramie Avenue in the South Austin neighborhood, where the organization’s CEO, Adam Alonso, first visited NBC 5’s Sandra Torres. The project has been ongoing ever since. 2017 and, although still under construction, it is expected to open in early 2023.
“The first week it grew, the community was like, ‘What’s going on? Is it really happening? ‘” Alonso said.
The campus will include art and music studios, performance spaces, a youth lounge, a large gym with several basketball hoops, an elevated track and a fitness center. It even includes a commercial kitchen space and carpentry shop, both of which will be used for the organization’s workforce development programs.
“The Revolution Workshop, another nonprofit here on the West Side, partners with us to train our middle and high school kids in woodworking and tool use,” Alonso said.
The project is part of BUILD’s plan to involve children and adolescents in its development programs from an early age. The organization first began as a gang intervention program in 1969, and while it’s still a big part of BUILD, its mission has evolved to focus on violence prevention.
With the new facility, the organization said it will expand its after-school programs in hopes of giving West Side children a bright future.
“A member of my team said it like that and it shook me when he said…we have to cut the next-gen shooter,” Alonso said. “We’re stopping this violent cycle, so how do we get in? How do we help these young people so they don’t become next-gen shooters or the next victim? We want them to succeed and be the next president, lawyer, doctor.”
That’s why the new Community and Youth Center will be a beneficial addition to the Austin neighborhood.
“Just talking to our young people, they say, ‘Is this really for us?’ and it’s just sad. I wanted to cry at that moment because why wouldn’t it be for you? You deserve it,” Alonso said. “Every young person deserves to have these kinds of facilities, especially when you live in such disinvested neighborhoods.”
Approximately 2,000 students are currently participating in BUILD programs and they are all eagerly awaiting the opening of the facility.
BUILD said it plans to keep the facility running during the day so community members can also enjoy what the center has to offer.