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How Chicago Teens Are Shaking Off Pandemic Stress This Summer

This story is by Adriana Cardona-Maguigad, and is an excerpt from a piece that was published on wbez.org on July, 30, 2021. You can view the original and listen to the audio recording HERE.

Chicago teens are getting to be kids again.

After more than a year with severe limits because of the pandemic, this summer has been about regaining some freedom.

Teens can now spend less time watching TV or playing video games in their bedrooms and more time at skate parks, basketball courts and the beach shaking off the stress and boredom brought on by the pandemic.

WBEZ visited La Villita Park in Little Village on the Southwest Side and the Jackson Park football field on the South Side to capture the sights and sounds of 2021 teen summer life.














A group of middle schoolers warm up before hitting the skate park at La Villita Park on July 21 during a skateboarding class. Instructor Spencer Cotton watches as his students laugh during a team-building exercise. Cotton is a program coordinator for the Chill Foundation, which connects young people across the U.S and other countries with outdoor activities.

A youth works with an instructor skating.













Instructor Karina Campos gives student Jalaya Williams some pointers about how to push off. Campos, also with Chill, grew up in Little Village. She says this summer La Villita Park is coming alive again with more teens and kids showing up to play and skateboard.










Karina Campos gives student Mya Ambrose some pointers. Mya said being inside the house during the pandemic got her upset and left her feeling moody. Now that she can be outdoors, she says she’s feeling better.

A youth skateboarding in a yellow shirt


















On the same day as the Chill Foundation skateboarding class, other teens rolled through the park. They showed off their moves, giving the beginners some ideas about what may come next. Some of the teens said last school year was a blur. They were distracted with their video games, had a hard time focusing and completing school work.

Youth skating with an instructor.













Nathan Shoop watches as Mya Ambrose manages to roll down the ramp on her own during class.

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