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Evanston / Northshore NAACP prioritizes health and youth in town hall

Daily file photo of Colin Boyle

The Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. NAACP leadership spoke in a town hall Wednesday night about their plans to work with Black Evanston youth to promote physical and mental health.

Evanston / Northshore NAACP provided the residents with an update on the last year of initiatives and joint committee updates in a virtual town hall on Wednesday.

Third Vice President Sharon Weeks said the NAACP is particularly focused this year on health and wellness, a pivotal issue inspired by the pandemic.

“The pandemic has made it a priority,” Weeks said. “We didn’t have a functioning health and welfare committee at the time of the pandemic. We are so happy that someone intervened. ”

Branch President Michael CR Nabors said the group worked with several African American communities last spring to set up vaccination sites at their places of worship.

Weeks said students from across the community also helped launch the branch’s COVID-19 vaccine. She said members of her committee high school age had community members get their vaccines and boosters.

“We have some young high school people who are community organizers, and they really are our boots,” said Weeks. “You’re on the front lines trying to do some of the things kids can do to help.”

Rev. Caliph Crutcher, speaking for the branch’s religious affairs committee, said NAACP Evanston’s work on health and wellness should go beyond the immediate needs of COVID-19. In addition to partnering with local organizations to start the discussion on Alzheimer’s, the committee worked with Lake County’s African American Community Partnership Group to host mental health talks.

“The mental health of blacks and browns is critically important,” said Crutcher. “Mental health in the black community is far less taboo than it used to be. At the beginning of the new year we would like to take this opportunity to hold a seminar on the importance of your mental health. ”

Education Committee Chair Terri Shepard said the NAACP’s Evanston branch is looking to expand its commitment to the North Shore youth this year.

The branch hopes to expand its “Next Generation Leadership” program, which supports young people in becoming “strong actors for social change”, and offers opportunities such as the “NextGen” leadership development program and the “Afro Academy, Culture, Technology” program and Scientific Olympiad. ”

Over the past year, Shepard said the branch has funded multiple grants, hosted readathons, requested student loan termination, and worked with Evanston Cradle to Career, a partnership of local organizations committed to improving the lives of children and families.

“We need to address systemic racism and poverty as tangible barriers to learning and future success,” she said. “Every student deserves access to great teaching, equitable resources, and a safe learning environment. Black students are important and it has never been more important to work for them. ”

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