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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

West Side Community Bike Ride Saturday Will Be ‘A Symbol Of Peace’ For Local Youth

A community expo beforehand will offer free haircuts, books and sports equipment for kids. Parents will also be able to sign up their kids for summer youth programs.

Residents biking through the West Side with Boxing Out Negativity in May 2021.
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NORTH LAWNDALE — Hundreds of residents will cycle through North Lawndale Saturday as a show of unity and peace.

Organized by a collaboration of neighborhood groups, the Bike Out Negativity community bike ride aims to give local kids a safe, fun way to ride Saturday. The event will include a free community resource fair to connect residents with social services, youth programs and health resources.

The Bike Out Negativity community expo begins 10 a.m. at 3147 W. Douglas Blvd. across from St. Agatha Church. The bike ride begins 1 p.m. Register online on Eventbrite.

“The bike ride is a symbol of peace. A symbol of unity, togetherness,” said Derek Brown, lead organizer for the ride and founder of Boxing Out Negativity. “The idea of this is to create memories for children in North Lawndale. The spike of violence has risen tremendously, and we haven’t been safe to walk our own streets.”

Participants can also get vaccinated against coronavirus at the community expo. The mobile vaccination clinic will offer the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines.

More than 30 neighborhood organizations are partnering in the resource fair, including UCAN, St. Anthony Hospital and the North Lawndale Athletic and Recreation Association. Participants will be able to connect with local groups, access services and sign up their kids for youth programs, Brown said.

“Instead of the community going out to these organizations or youth centers, the youth centers are coming to them,” Brown said.

The expo will also offer free haircuts for kids by Pro Image Cuts; free care packages with athletic gear, including youth-sized basketballs from Four Point Play; gift bags; children’s books from Open Books and free soccer balls from America Scores.

There will be music, food and snacks at the event, as well as a live performance by the Celestial Ministries youth drum line.

Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board, will speak at the event before the 1 p.m. bike ride.

The 6-mile bike route will go through Little Village and end at Love Blooms Here Plaza, where the Lawndale Pop-Up Spot is running a mini-museum exhibit focused on cycling, racial equity and mobility justice.

The ride will also go through areas that have had many incidents of violence recently. By getting the community engaged in places that struggle with violence, the ride can improve safety in North Lawndale, Brown said.

“We’ll ride through the community, ride through some of the hot spots … to show these guys, before you think about shooting, this is what we have. This is what we’re here to protect,” he said.

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

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