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Forum: More jobs, activities needed for youth

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At a town hall forum Wednesday night most speakers called for more recreational activities and job training opportunities for young people as a response to gun violence in Evanston.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who led the session, said the city's summer youth jobs program has expanded to offer more than 500 jobs this year, but she hopes to soon be able to double its size.

The mayor also encouraged residents to volunteer to organize recreation programs for students — noting that years ago she'd been involved in organizing evening drop-in programs for students at Evanston Township High School.

A young activist with the Dajae Coleman Foundation.

Activists from church groups and other organizations also promoted events they're organizaing.

Those include a community book reading at 6:30 p.m. on Friday July 25 at Sherman United Methodist Church, 2214 Ridge Ave., at which members of the Dajae Coleman Foundation will read excerpts from "How Long Will I Cry?" and discuss youth violence, and a prayer vigile at 7 p.m. tonight and Friday at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 1113 Clark St.

Ridgeville Park District Board Member Rob Bady.

Rob Bady, a member of the Ridgeville Park District's board, said the park district is working to reach more young people in its south Evanston neighborhood with a variety of events — including pizza parties that have drawn several hundred people. The next one, he said, is scheduled for Aug. 13.

He said that until recently, while there are 6,000 kids in the area Ridgeville serves, "we were only serving 150."

About 70 people turned out for the town hall event held at the Chandler Newberger Center.

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