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A new summer of service learning begins!

2014 will be the Summer Service Partnership’s sixth summer addressing community health issues on the South Side of Chicago through service, education and youth leadership. And it will be my fourth summer to have the privilege of directing the program.

Each summer, SSP teaches me new and powerful lessons.

My first summer of 2011, I learned that motivated people will do amazing things when they have a basic structure and basic support in which to work. When the students accomplished their goals, they believed in their power to change the world for the better.

In SSP 2012, I learned that teamwork is what makes or breaks each venture.

In SSP 2013, I felt firsthand within the program the devastating cycle of violence and hopelessness, and found relief in the SSP neighborhood teams’ simple acts of community building and messages of peace. Creating safe and welcoming neighborhood teams was an act of healing, from which the students were able to envision and create safe spaces for their communities.

Each SSP neighborhood team provides a microcosm of hope.  No one of us, by ourselves, will create a healthier South Side. But together, our small efforts are amplified to build a healthier South Side.

As Dr. Alan Troutman said at the Urban Health Initiative Summit:

I am the change. You are the change. We are the change.

I look forward to learning what lessons SSP 2014 will teach.

What do you hope to learn?