Non-Profit Organization Takes Holistic Approach in Englewood

Deborah Bayliss | 7/18/2014, 4:34 p.m.
As Chicago’s gun violence continues, an organization called, I Grow Chicago—whose mission is to provide a safe, haven for children ...
I Grow Chicago, yoga instructor, Tameka Lawson, leads a class outside the house at 64th and Honore in Chicago’s Englewood community.

As Chicago’s gun violence continues, an organization called, I Grow Chicago—whose mission is to provide a safe, haven for children caught in the midst of poverty, gun violence and other societal ills—is working to combat this troubling epidemic particularly in Chicago's Englewood community.

That Englewood is pegged as Chicago's most violent neighborhood, I Grow Chicago, located at 415 E. North Water St., faces a daunting task but nonetheless took on the challenge with its Yoga and Meditation, Urban Agriculture, Art & Culture holistic programming and repurposing a house at 64th and Honore Streets where yoga classes are sometimes held.

“We started our day this morning (Monday following the 4th of July weekend) saying we’re very lucky that we lost no one from our group because someone was shot not too far from here," said Robbin Carroll, I Grow Chicago’s cofounder and president.

Carroll's statement was in response to the Chicago Citizen Newspaper’s inquiry about the impact of the violence on the children, I Grow Chicago serves.

When asked if the children talk about the violence they hear and see day in and day out, Carroll said, “We discuss with the children how it makes them feels, and we tell them, just as we did last Thursday as they left for the holiday weekend, to be mindful of the choices they make. We have a seven year-old who’s caught up in the street lifestyle because his family is involved in that lifestyle and whenever we can, we bring him in and work with him. And we’re hoping we’re going to win.”

With the motto "whatever happens to any one of us"—human, animal, plant or ecosystem—happens to all of us-- I Grow serves youth ages 5 to 21 with the programming aimed at relieving stress, improving physical health, building self-esteem, mentoring, jobs skills, and teaching how caring for self and caring for your community and environment are all inter-related.

Tameka Lawson leads I Grow’s yoga classes and said, “We notice that youth that take our classes are able to process situations with clarity. We teach the power of the breath and taking a moment to be still. If one is to take a deep breath, and act rather than react to a situation, they may be able to react with clarity while taking into account possible consequences.  We have been teaching yoga to the community for over 2 years.

I Grow Chicago offers free community yoga classes on the first Monday of every month at Kusanya Café, 825 W. 69th St.

For more information about I Grow Chicago programming and cost, please call, (312) 286-7392.