The Happiness Club of Chicago, which provides free performing arts education to at-risk youth, hosts an annual benefit night

CHICAGO (WLS) — A show for Chicago youth, by Chicago youth, was performed on Sunday night.

“It’s a family space first and foremost,” Sylvia Love said.

The Happiness Club, after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, staged its annual performance featuring original music and choreography by club members.

“We are the only arts and education program [in Chicago] which is aimed specifically at children,” said Tangi Harper, artistic director of the Happiness Club.

The Happiness Club of Chicago has been a free performing arts education program for Chicago youth for over two decades.

It has provided some of the city’s at-risk areas with access to the arts to foster untapped talent, as well as a safe place to develop artistic and communication skills by providing art to areas, members say, who don’t usually don’t. Resources.

“We keep them busy, we keep them focused, and we give them a path that’s what makes them successful,” Harper said.

“They bring you in, they make sure you’re comfortable and learning at the same time. You’re learning, honestly, like dancing skills, singing skills, learning how to be a better person,” Love added. .

The benefit included a performance by Happiness Club alumni Kaina Castillo, originally from The Irving Park, who is a singer-songwriter, just completed her first headlining tour and second album.

“Coming home and doing this right after that is just coming full circle and grounding yourself and that’s beautiful,” Castillo said.

Sunday night’s Legacy Award winner was Chicago Academy of Arts alumnus, author and filmmaker Kimberly Latrice Jones.

“We talk a lot about crime, but what you have to recognize is that crime and poverty go hand in hand. One does not go without the other. life can be, they stay in that direction. It turns people around. I know it’s done that for me,” Jones said.

“Young people in the city have a lot of talent that they don’t give the resources to, so I feel like there should be more programs like this,” Love said.

Organizers said 90% of Happiness Club members have gone through college or post-high school arts programs, mostly with dance or music scholarships.

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