Holy Cross Parish
The woodshop offers mentoring to community youth from middle through high school. Under the vigilant supervision of adults, young people from the parish learn to use wood-working tools to create pieces they can be proud of. The shop also serves as a creative outlet for young people and a way to boost their confidence and self-image. Participants make a wide range of projects from small gifts and personal keepsakes to elaborate art pieces to be sold to help support the program.
This program gives young people an alternative to the streets while teaching them discipline and marketable job skills and experience with the safe use of tools. The woodshop has also recently started an adult program in addition to the youth shop time to give adults in the community the same opportunity to learn to use tools and create art pieces to be sold in support of the parish.
Arts and life-skills programs have a positive impact for youth from a variety of backgrounds, but these programs especially help provide healing and new growth for adolescents living in communities impacted by poverty and violence. They provide alternatives to gangs and drugs while improving academic success, and building self-discipline and communication skills. Artistic expression can also help at-risk youths see they have something important to contribute to their community.
The woodshop serves youth in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on Chicago’s industrial southwest side. The average annual household income in the neighborhood is about $32,000, with 36% of residents living below the poverty line. Youth programs like the woodshop are a source of hope and support for young people and a building block for positive change.