There are about 200,000 Muslim youth in greater Chicago area, of which an estimated 95% of Muslim youth are disconnected from mosque communities – a statistic that is compatible with the roughly 95% of our institutions that are unequipped to engage young Muslims in a way that meaningful and culturally relevant.
The Council facilitates an effort for nurturing local youth development among its 60 member institutions, and works to mitigate the stigma of “otherness” that often marginalizes communities. This is done through programs that support, educate, mobilize and empower young Muslims to find a well-integrated Muslim American voice and identity that is manifested in action for positive social change in American society at large.
With a fervent vision to fulfill the prophetic model of youth development, the Council has allocated a substantial portion of its energy and resources to the empowerment of Muslim youth work in Illinois. With a birds-eye view of the Illinois Muslim landscape, including 52 weekend schools, 15 Full time Islam schools, over 50 member organizations, 100 youth mentors, more than 15 MSA campuses and at least 40 youth groups, the Council is in an ideal place to facilitate networking, capacity building and coordination among the Greater Chicago’s Muslim youth endeavors.
CIOGC Programs for Youth
The Council holds annual Leadership Forums serving 150 teens equipping them with tools to address a range of issues from environmental care, to peer pressure, character building, and civic responsibitlity. Subscribe to the Council’s e-news to stay posted on upcoming leadership forums.
The Council’s civic engagment programs offer Muslim youth an opportunity to find a well-integrated Muslim American voice and identity manifested in action for positive social change. While exercising civic duty, youth develop responsible citizenship and leadership.
Civic Engagement Programs include:
Senate Page Program:
Don’t miss our annual essay contest in which 10-25 high school students win an opportunity to shadow an Illinois state senator in the capitol building, assisting and becoming familiar with policy making in the legislative branch! 87% of the Council’s former Senate Pages are motivated to pursue future careers in public service, and say they’ve gained an appreciation of civic duty. Both legislators and youth look forward to the Senate Page Program each year.
Interfaith Teen Delegation for Social Change:
This program has 30 Muslim, Jewish and Christian teens embark on a series of activities around a social topic of shared concern (this year’s voted topic was Public Education Reform). After three months of research and discussion, the young interfaith delegation travels together to the capitol building to meet with state legislators and deliver a group presentation advocating for the common good. Participant evaluations demonstrate a 100% increase in human understanding and a resolve for continued interfaith collaboration.
Illinois Muslim Action Day:
Each year, the Council trains approximately 700 middle and high school students through five of Chicago’s full time Islamic parochial schools. Trainings cover the importance of civic engagement, and the basics of American civics and political advocacy. The schools reinforce our training with a 7 day curricular lesson plan packet provided by the Council. The program then culminates in an inter-school field trip to the capitol building in Springfield, involving 700 students who are prepared to spend the day meeting with legislators to advocate for the common good. This year, Illinois Muslim Action Day assembled a total of 1200 Muslim Americans in Springfield who collectively advocated for environmental issues, human services, health care, increased healthy food options in Chicago’s impoverished inner-city, and public education reform. Based on participant evaluations, this program has empowered Muslims to exercise a constructive role in American society and to claim their own identity against the highly misrepresentative voice of Muslims by a radical fringe and by mainstream media.
Arts, Culture & Identity: Constructive Channels for Youth Expression
The Council offers workshops and activities to constructively channel youth frustrations about social marginalization and the pressures of Islamophobia. Benefitting approximately 400 youth per year, these activities include mural painting and creative writing workshops as a constructive means of self expression, and workshops for building media skills such as writing letters-to-the-editor.
SOAR! Muslim Youth at the Highest Elements is a day long retreat offering team challenges and leadership workshops led by experts in youth development. Youth experience a series of initiatives over 30 feet in the air. Strategy and strength are combined with strong spirituality to take the youth up climbing towers with over 1000 square feet of climbing surface and multiple routes. Relying on their teams and concentrating intensely, the participants are compelled – if they want to make it back down to the ground safely- to master the qualities of unity and ihsan (excellence in one’s endeavors).
After the rigorous four hour course in the field, young minds are then stimulated by illuminating workshops led by youth development activists, and spiritual trainers. Workshops range from topics around service learning, community organizing, personal development, and more.