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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

Can An Xbox Live Or Netflix Subscription Prevent The Spread Of Coronavirus? West Side Legal Aid Organization Says Yes

West Side teens often don't have access to the things keeping people occupied during the pandemic. One group is raising money to change that.

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NORTH LAWNDALE — Want to keep antsy teens inside during a global pandemic? Give them access to some good TV.

The team at Lawndale Christian Legal Center thinks the youth they serve would be more likely to stay inside if they had something to keep them occupied — so they’re raising money to give their clients subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, and Xbox Live to keep them entertained.

“The severity of the situation doesn’t resonate with them right away,” said case manager supervisor Carli Taylor. “And so we have to take extra time and make sure that we’re making it applicable to their lives.”

The legal center offers wraparound services to young people involved with the justice system from North Lawndale, where many people are uninsured and a large proportion of residents have underlying health conditions that make them susceptible to COVID-19. In order to engage teens in the citywide efforts to keep the virus at bay, Taylor said the organization’s staff realized they had to offer them something that young people love: thousands of movies to stream and dozens of TV shows for binge-watching.

“Part of the reason why they may be gathering at each other’s houses is because this person has  Netflix or that person has an Xbox Live subscription,” Taylor said.

Taylor said they are hoping to raise enough money for 75 subscriptions so their most at-risk clients can have something to do while they shelter-in-place. She said the subscriptions will benefit the physical health of the community by encouraging self-quarantine, but will also help stave off the mental health impacts of being socially isolated for an extended period of time.

“Much of the community suffers from PTSD and other undiagnosed mental health issues. And I know that isolation and seclusion can be hard for many. And a lot of times our clients gather because it is comforting to be around the people you like and love,” Taylor said.

The young people in North Lawndale are ignoring the self-quarantine order not because they don’t care, Taylor said, but because many live in unstable homes and crave social connections with their community. But with services like Xbox Live and Netflix Party, they will be able to play games and watch movies with their peers from the safety of their homes.

Lawndale Christian Legal Center is looking for donations to support their efforts to encourage young people to stay at home. To make a donation to sponsor a subscription, reach out to the center’s development department or online here.

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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