This past August, the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance (PRAA) brought teenagers and police officers together for a barbecue event at the Humboldt Park beach. The officers (from the Puerto Rican Police Association and the Hispanic Illinois State Law Enforcement Association) and the students (from PRAA´s Latin Music Project and the Studio Arts Program) had a day filled with food, games and music made possible with funding from The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities.
It was the culminating event for 60 teenagers who had participated in PRAA’s Latin Music Project and Studio Arts Program; music students brought their instruments and performed, while art students showed off their creative design work.
“It was a way for police officers and our youth to interact in a relaxing environment,” said PRAA´s Director of Development and Programs Rebecca Raab. “They were able to have fun and to get to know each other.”
One of the 10 police officers who attended was inspired to deliver an impromptu speech to the students. “They were very interested in what the police officer had to say,” says Raab. “Their attentiveness was an indicator that everyone was comfortable with each other. We felt that the event was a success.”
Raquel Venado is a writer with Rudd Resources.