Kids ages 12-18 will be able to use University of Illinois at Chicago's pool and athletic field for free over the next few weeks through a partnership with Luv City. Credit: University of Illinois at Chicago

UNIVERSITY VILLAGE — University of Illinois at Chicago has opened its pool and athletic fields to Pilsen kids thanks to a new partnership with Pilsen-based Luv City.

The summer pilot program kicked off Tuesday and will run until August 9. On Tuesdays, kids 12-18 will use the pool and Thursdays they can use the athletic fields. The program is completely free to families, paid for by UIC and sponsor R.R. Callahan Company.

There are still a handful of spots in the program 25th Ward families can sign up for, Luv City Executive Director Andre Rodriguez said. Those interested can reach out to Rodriguez through Luv City’s website.

Luv City is a new neighborhood nonprofit that aims to give kids a creative outlet and “to directly address the cycles of poverty and violence through youth engagement in the digital and performing arts,” according to its website.

Rodriguez said he hopes this summer’s program with UIC goes well so it can continue and expand next summer.

This summer’s program comes as Pilsen’s two main pools — Harrison Park pool and Dvorak Park pool — aren’t scheduled to open this season as the district faces a lifeguard shortage that made it difficult to hire enough personnel for all Chicago’s beaches and pools.

“Beyond access to swimming pools and athletics fields, we will also engage the youth with weekly talks that will focus on topics like financial awareness, mental health, artistic creativity and other areas tailored to their interests,” said Amalia Pallares, UIC vice chancellor for diversity, equity and engagement, in a news release. “We view this pilot as an important resource for local youth as well as an expansion and deepening of our community collaborations and partnerships in Pilsen.”

In the news release, the area’s Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) thanked UIC for its partnership with Luv City for offering these opportunities for the neighborhood’s youth.

“Our community has a responsibility to our youth, to guide them in the right direction in order to succeed,” Sigcho-Lopez said.

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