Did you know that the Explorers program is also for young women? Exposure works for everybody. Disconnected girls and young women are three times more likely to have a child as their connected counterparts. Research shows that girls with limited options don’t have the incentives to delay motherhood until they finish school, find gainful employment, and have committed partners. Unfortunately, the educational and economic opportunities of some teens in Chicago are almost entirely dependent upon the infrastructure of their neighborhood.
Our Explorers took the Red Line from 47th to Fullerton Ave to DePaul University. One of the young ladies mentioned that you have to live past 103rd Street to say you’re from the 100s. Those between 100 and 102nd can't claim the allure of the wild hundreds. I said that was so parochial, so Chicago.
I wanted the Explorers to visit college campuses and get the full college experience, so we had lunch at Devil Dawgs, a staple for DePaul University students. Then the young ladies took an intro to sewing class hosted by Stitch, a DePaul graduate whose designs have been featured on Project Run Way and America's Top Design. Today’s project was making an apron to give their moms on Mother’s Day. Each was assigned to her own sewing machine, and they learned how to set it up before beginning the process of sewing the fabric together.
A great teacher, Stitch explained that he grew up in Englewood and found sewing to be therapeutic. The girls were only one strap away from completing their aprons, so the executive director of Ladies of Virtue, a nonprofit leadership organization, said she’d take the teens to the dry cleaners to stitch that last strap on in time for Mother’s Day.