Unity. Invigorating. Inspired. These are the words that members of the Muslim Youth of Chicago Network used to describe their inaugural meeting, which took place on Sunday, February 7, 2016 at the American Islamic College. Close to 25 people representing 12 diverse groups came to the table for one purpose: to strengthen Muslim youth work across Greater Chicago. The Muslim Youth of Chicago Network, or simply “MY Chi”, was established by CIOGC to bring together Muslim youth workers to share resources and strategies, address common challenges and strengthen services and programming for the youth in our community.
Attendees represented groups and organizations from all across the city and suburbs, including the Islamic Center of Naperville (ICN), IMAN (Inner-city Muslim Action Network), Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs (ISNS), Muslim American Society (MAS) – Bridgeview Chapter, Muslim Community Center (MCC), Mosque Foundation, Muslim Women’s Alliance (MWA), Nigerian Islamic Association (NIA), SoundVision, Sisters Steppin’ Up (SSU), and Youth in Motion, which hosted the meeting. An additional eight other groups have signed on to MY Chi.
MY Chi representatives discussed numerous challenges that Muslim youth programs contend with, including insufficient volunteers and staff, recruitment of new youth, and above all, lack of funding.
Attendees also focused on how to build a sense of community within youth programs, and groups shared different ways they work toward that goal. Some of these methods include allowing the program to be youth-led, giving youth special responsibilities and fostering their leadership skills. Other ways included eating and praying together.
Representatives spent a considerable amount of time sharing details about their programs and upcoming events and suggesting ways to increase communication and cohesion among groups.
MY Chi participants intend to hold bi-monthly meetings and will be hosted by a different group each time. Seven groups have already offered to host the next meeting.
MY Chi is welcoming other youth groups to join the network. If interested, please contact [email protected].