Reporting Derrick Blakley
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CHICAGO (CBS) – When world leaders come to Chicago in just 12 days for the NATO summit, their spouses will get a very special tour given by First Lady Michelle Obama.
As CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, they’ll be taken to the Gary Comer Youth Center, a prominent youth center in the Grand Crossing neighborhood.
Workers at the center have already started spiffing up the six-year-old facility for its star turn on the world stage.
It’s mission is to ensure students graduate from high school, and their later success in college and professional careers – students like award-winning artist Imani Irvy.
She said it’s significant that the youth center will be shown off to international leaders.
“It’s showing people what one building, such as the youth center, can do for the neighborhood or community,” Ivry said.
Gary Comer, the multimillionaire who founded Lands End, grew up in Grand Crossing. Michelle Obama also grew up not far away, in a bungalow in the South Shore neighborhood.
Now, Mrs. Obama wants to spotlight what students from her old neighborhood can achieve.
“We have a dynamic staff. We have an amazing facility, but most importantly, we have young people that are really hungry … to achieve, and are hungry to learn,” the center’s executive director, Greg Mooney said.
The center provides a host of unique after-school classes, from studio dancing to rooftop gardening, and from art to old-fashioned tutoring provided by college students.
Asked how she thinks the center pay off for her in the long-run, Gary Comer Youth Center student Jada Jefferson said, “It’s just going to teach me how to survive when I get older.”
The Gary Comer Youth Center serves about 1,000 students a year.
When the first lady and the NATO dignitaries visit the center, they’ll also see a performance by the famous South Shore Drill Team – which is based at the center – as well as the Muntu Dance Theatre, and the Soul Children of Chicago.