Everyone has a story, but sometimes life choices and circumstances can get in the way of a happily ever after if there is no proper guidance.
Marcelo Sandoval grew up with a single mother and many siblings. His family moved around from basements, apartments, and homes in attempt to always ensure there was a roof over their heads. His mother worked 15 hour shifts to make ends meet and to send her children to a private school for a good education. His brother took advantage of her time away and got involved with gangs and Sandoval followed suit as he looked up to his brother. This led to him being eventually shot in both of his legs and placed with the decision to continue down that path or choose a better life.
He chose to change his life and attend Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, a Catholic residential treatment home that provides community based youth mentoring, that has been serving Chicago since 1887. Sandoval’s story really showed the many problems youth in Chicago may deal with and the Chicago Tribune is taking the initiative to understand how to change Chicago’s disconnected youth with Chicago Forward.
Chicago Forward/Young Lives in the Balance: How to Reach Chicagoland’s Disconnected Youth is a series developed by Chicago Tribune and backed by mayor Lori Lightfoot that strives to address the large number of unemployed and under resourced Chicago youth. The Chicago Tribune has replaced their reporters and staff in communities where opportunity is lacking, so they can show the REAL side of the youth’s story. They also go into programs and facilities that provide tremendous help and services to show what works when combating the realities of growing up in Chicago. Sandoval’s story about his experience at Mercy Home was representative of that. The Chicago Tribune has started to express their concerns and findings through the opinions page of the local newspaper.
The six month campaign’s purpose is to search for the best ways to prepare young people to have productive lives in Chicago. Partnerships with AT&T, Bank of America, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and University of Illinois at Chicago provides this campaign with the financial backing to effectively research the reasons why youth are becoming disconnected and how to prevent that.
Sandoval recently graduated with his bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and now works at Wintrust Bank. He also assumes the job to educate other youth on his life experiences and how he changed his course. He gives the youth hope. The organizations of Chicago helped move Sandoval forward and Chicago Forward is thriving to make that the case for the other 47,000 disconnected youth in this city.
Be sure to read Chicago Forward’s discussion and debate pieces that are on Chicago Tribune’s print and digital pages.
By Kyla Hubbard, Senior, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School