ASMHunterGroup“Today’s Chicago teens face unprecedented challenges like worrying about personal safety, graduating high school and finding a job,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter. “Yet, they continually prove why they and after school programs matter.”

The youth of After School Matters, a non-profit organization, reject violence and joblessness as being the norm in their personal narratives. Teens, such as Simeon Career seniors Akiya Cole and Debrya Fullbright, take action in their communities by serving as role models.

On November 19, Hunter sat down with these future leaders of the TechKno Camp, a video and film production program, to discuss their roles in their neighborhood and participate in their film about Chicago gun violence.

“These teens have programs we never had while I was growing up,” said Hunter, born and raised in Robert Taylor Homes where the facility now stands.

“It’s a better way to keep you out of trouble. It’s something that will keep you out of the streets,” said Fullbright when asked about the importance of after school programs.

More than 15,000 teens participate in the life changing, and often life-saving, opportunities After School Matters provide.

“When I came here, it made me want to continue my music education,” said Cole, who dreams of becoming a singer.

Area youth ended the full tour of TechKno Camp’s facilities, which included a computer lab, a recording studio and a conference room for storyboards and collaboration, with a student-filmed interview.

Hunter participated in “Wisdom –The Body of Knowledge,” a student-orchestrated docu-drama focused on making positive choices when confronted with violence.

Hunter plans to tour more after school programs within her district and continue fighting for funding these critical facilities.