At Blessed Sacrament we seek excellence in all of our programming and offer a wide variety of programming all designed with the single purpose to enrich the lives of our youth and help them in their formation into adulthood. Our programming is frequently adjusted to better suit the needs of the community but below are some of our traditional programs:
Our Flagship After School Program
Everyday after school and through the evening we offer homework assistance, tutoring, sports such as basketball, floor hockey and volleyball, arts and crafts, computer lab, dance and other recreational activities for youth ages 7 to 18. We are also frequently assisted by volunteers and partner organizations who conduct special programming throughout the year such as book clubs, cooking classes, art projects and music lessons. In addition, every school night we also offer character education programming in which we seek to build moral character in our youth by teaching them virtues such as honesty, personal responsibility, patience and courage using the Socratic method. It is our belief that through such character instruction our youth will be better equipped to resist self destructive temptations and make better decisions throughout their lives.
Throughout the year we host regular guest speakers who address the youth on topics that are relevant to them such as the dangers of drugs, gangs and teen sex and the importance of staying in school. We also host regular Boys Nights and Girls Nights in which successful African Americans, often from North Lawndale themselves, speak to the youth about their trade or profession and encourage them to explore any interest they may have in their field. In a community often lacking in successful role models, these speakers are powerful reminders to our youth that they are not limited in their potential but can be anyone they wish.
Field Trips and Retreats
We also take our youth on regular field trips outside of North Lawndale to places such as museums, zoos, movie theaters and amusement parks both as an award for good behavior and to broaden their horizons. And while such field trips would be a treat for any young person, they are especially appreciated in the lives of our youth who must often struggle through difficult circumstances at home. We also host regular youth retreats at the youth center and at other locations in which we discuss issues and obstacles in their lives such as violence, drugs, peer pressure and teen pregnancy and we offer them training to help develop the skills necessary to resist such temptations.
For our youth in high school, we offer materials and other resources in career counseling and vocational training as they embark upon their work life. We also provide both individual and group training in how to fill out a job application, prepare a resume and conduct oneself in a job interview. And we continue to provide referrals and encouragement to them as they advance through the job search process.
Summer Enrichment Program
Every summer we offer a day long educational and recreational summer camp for typically 60 to 70 of our young people. The program is run by adolescent youth and young adults and overseen by youth center staff. We first train the camp counselors and then they themselves prepare the daily activities for the younger children such as reading, sports, recreation, arts and crafts, and performing arts. Twice a week, we also take the youth on field trips to swim or play organized sports or to a park, museum or some other place of educational or historical significance in order to broaden their horizons. For the youth hired as camp counselors, the experience is a positive formative experience as it is their first paid job. And for the younger youth, they are afforded a summer experience which is both educational and innocent and fun-filled.