WEST TOWN — An annual neighborhood event to spread kindness and disavow hate is back this weekend.
Stand Up to Hate Playdate takes place 2:30-4:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at Commercial Club Park, 1845 W. Rice St..
There will be family activities, performances, group yoga, a drag queen storytime, face painting, a balloon artist and a table with resources from local groups, founder Ferrai Pickett said. There will also be refreshments from food trucks, ice cream, desserts and other snacks, an organizer said on the GoFundMe page.
Pickett, who started the event in 2017, said she’s using the annual Playdate and other new events she’s planning throughout the year to help parents teach their children emotional intelligence and the importance of recognizing differences.
“I would say my new mission in life is to try to teach families and kids how to be socially and emotionally aware,” Pickett said. “Part of that is teaching them how to have age-appropriate conversations about what is happening in the world around us, but in a way that their kids can understand.”
Pickett is still raising funds to support Playdate and other events throughout the year, she said. She’s raised nearly $3,000 of her $5,000 goal. The donations would help Pickett bring back other events throughout the year, like for Juneteeth.
Pickett said recent events like the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeal of Roe vs. Wade has made her realize the importance in not shying away from having difficult but necessary conversations between parents and children.
“I think about the conversations that I have with my peers about what’s going on with the world … so trying to figure out ways to have these conversations that I’m having with adults and [figuring out] a way for parents to have these conversations with their kids in a way that reaches and teaches,” Pickett said.
Pickett started Playdate after a family she was nannying for received a hate-filled letter in their mailbox about her employment. The anonymous writer of the letter suggested the family fire Pickett, who is Black, and instead hire a white nanny in her place.
She launched the event with help from mothers Heather Dejonker and Maria Ippolito, for whom Pickett had also worked. The event was a way for the community to come together, spread kindness and show that racism wouldn’t be tolerated, according to the website.
Pickett said she also hopes she’ll have a chance to take the event across the country.
“There’s always a community of people who don’t feel safe or protected and they’re the voices that I want to amplify and I want to be heard, and I want to feel protected,” Pickett said.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: