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More than 500 family and community members joined 165 kids for a night of sharing and community-building at Y.O.U.’s annual Summer Showcase on Thursday evening at Nichols Middle School in Evanston.

Visitors learned firsthand about the enrichment activities and projects that were part of the youngster’s summer learning experience as the group, known for decades as Youth Organizations Umbrella unveiled its new name that fits the same initials — Youth & Opportunity United.

Set up like an expo, the Summer Showcase allowed guests to interact with youth-led presentations about specific projects, watch live performances, participate in sports and science activities, and even observe youth transform a blank canvas into a mural.

Highlights of the night included high school poetry performances about justice and individual growth; the premier of a water conservation public service announcement filmed and produced by middle schoolers at Metamedia; live experiments from Y.O.U.’s Mad Scientists; and yoga, mindfulness, and fitness demonstrations led by youth.

(Photos by Tom McAuliffe.)

Brigid Patzold, mother of Y.O.U. Edison 3rd grader Mason, said that every project and performance she learned about surpassed her expectations.

“I was blown away at the confidence that the kids showed in their presentations,” Patzold said. “I didn’t have to approach anyone, they were the ones calling me to their booths and asking if they could share what they learned this summer. I don’t think many adults can even do that.”

The Summer Showcase also provided visitors with a first look at Y.O.U.’s new name and brand. The organization will remain known throughout the community as Y.O.U. but is transitioning to a new long-form name: Youth & Opportunity United. Alongside this new name, Y.O.U. also released a new logo.

In making the decision to update its look, Y.O.U. sought to create a name and brand that reflected the growth of services and impact that has allowed the organization to go from serving 450 youth annually in 2010 to serving more than 1,500 youth today.

“As we embrace this new name, we truly cannot say thank you enough to this community, which has supported us in uniting youth with opportunities for 45 years,” said Seth Green, Executive Director of Y.O.U.

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