NORTH LAWNDALE— West Siders will bike through the streets of North Lawndale on Saturday on a mission to spread positivity throughout the neighborhood and connect residents with helpful support services.
The nine-mile Street Love ride is organized by youth recreation and mentorship program Boxing Out Negativity, which uses physical activity to engage at-risk youth and get them more involved in the community. Other neighborhood groups such as Equiticity, dedicated to building unity and kinship in the area, also are supporting the event.
Boxing Out Negativity founder Derek Brown aims for 1,000 cyclists to join on Saturday to create safety in numbers.
“We are trying to create a safe passage,” Brown said. “The streets are showing us much love, and they are buying into our peace ride.”
The Street Love ride will begin at St. Agatha Catholic Church, 3147 W. Douglas Blvd. with a cookout and community expo, where volunteers will provide information on COVID-19 and census completion. There also will be a bike giveaway and sign-ups for neighborhood programs.
Many Lawndale residents are disconnected from the programs and resources the neighborhood has to offer, which Brown said is a legacy of the segregation that has defined much of the city’s history. The Love Ride is a way of bringing positivity to all corners of Lawndale and engaging folks who wouldn’t otherwise get involved with neighborhood groups, Brown said.
Brown hopes the Street Love ride will be able to bring new people into the fold by meeting people where they are at and providing whatever services and help they need to guide them to a better path.
“When you get a credible messenger, somebody who is a role model, then you will be able to get the message across,” Brown said. “I once was on the dark side. And I made it from the darkness into the light. So there’s that connection of understanding.”
The Street Love community expo begins 5 p.m. Saturday. Free masks and hand sanitizer will be provided at the event, and participants will practice social distancing. The ride will begin 8 p.m.
Those interested in joining the ride, volunteering, or donating can do so at streetloveride.eventbrite.com.
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.
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