Food, laughter, awareness, and chalk… the key elements to a successful event. Telpochcalli Community Education Project (TCEP) is a non-profit organization located on Chicago’s West Side determined to bring change to the Little Village/South Lawndale community. The organization consist of like-minded individuals willing and able to build a better future for the younger generation.
Every year TCEP hosts an event called “Chalk It Out” to unite the community and raise awareness to a specific social issue. This year’s theme was centered around bringing awareness to the young children that were stripped away from their families at the border. Many people know the story, but some are going out into their communities to make change.
Youth coordinator, Michelle Velazquez, discussed the reasoning behind Chalk It Out. “Chalk It Out has been around for more than seven years and every year the theme is different. …Within our community we keep seeing ICE activity every day. The youth really wanted to get involved in creating a message for their parents who are immigrants, for the community just to inform them, and for them to see the problems through the youth’s lens and art. We want to bring awareness to the issues in our community, but also we want to bring youth together.”
She also shared with us the impact the organization has had on the community. “The impact shows not only in numbers that we get of youth coming in, but of youth returning. A lot of our youth have gone off to college and they’ve come back and participated as mentors to our younger youth.”
Karla May Nuno, a student at Noble Street College Prep, expressed how TCEP has impacted her and her community. “It’s been majorly important. I’ve made so many friends. Honestly, I was very shy. I was to myself in seventh grade and I didn’t talk to anyone. Now, I’m excited to meet people, I’m excited to shake their hand, and ask them ‘What’s your name?’ It’s really amazing. We get new kids every year and I get to see how they develop and how they make new friends. It’s very beautiful.”
Velazquez also explained the importance of funding from all organizations including, Chicago Fund of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. “Anything coming our way, in terms of funds, helps us with supplies and getting them to different excursions. So they can see more of what Little Village is.”
For more information of TCEP and its involvement in the community visit their website.
By Triniti Maye, Freshman, Saint Xavier University
Made possible with help of Chicago Fund of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Chi and Telpochcalli Community Education Project, Chalk It Up features youth using their artistic abilities to bring awareness to the important issues their community faces everyday!