CHICAGO. IL.- They are young and they are committed to make a difference. They are IGNIS, a youth group in Chicago who has set out to do its part in these times of Covid19 by producing cloth masks for youths staying in shelters, prisons or living in the streets.

To this end they have:

  • Started a fundraiser that will pay for face masks
  • Tapped into local small businesses for the production of the masks
  • Recruited young people who can sew in order to produce the masks.

In a few days, they have sewed 40 masks for Covenant House, Illinois, – a shelter for homeless  youth. They have different shelters already requesting anywhere from 50-100 masks. Their goal is to raise the funds for the production of 500 cloth masks to be donated to homeless shelters.

The group IGNIS  is sponsored by two nonprofits:  Poveda Education Project (PEP) in Chicago and  Education for an Interdependent World (EDIW).

It all began in February of 2019 when Elijah Ampo, a young adult from Chicago,  was invited to travel to Los Negrales, near Madrid, Spain, for the launching of the 2-year Youth ACT EDIW program.

EDIW is an international non-profit association that works in partnership with universities, international organizations, professional bodies and other platforms.

Its mission is to empower young people in Higher Education to promote and foster actions and projects that aim to build a more understanding and inclusive society in a multicultural and interdependent world.

It develops networks and empowerment structures for young professionals, students, and other young people that will enable them to further develop their capacity and responsibility to envision, create and develop such projects and actions.

During  the EDIW program in Spain, 80 young people from countries in Europe and  America learned about participation through interventions in political changes and practiced on skills to, eventually, act in their local realities by creating a Youth Act.  Ampo represented Chicago, and Karina Crespo, Lizette Leyva and Aida Varela represented Miami.

This has led to forming two groups of EDIW in the US. The one in Miami chose to create some intervention/Resource Center for undocumented students.

The one in Chicago  decided to work with issues of youth homelessness. Thus, on his return from the Madrid experience, Ampo held a meeting with the IGNIS  T.A. youth in Chicago and all decided to learn more about the realities of youth experiencing homelessness. They researched  policies, interviewed nonprofits, and volunteered in the community. And then, Covid19  landed in the US  and the group felt that face masks can protect youth staying in shelters, prisons or living in the streets.

Their plan is now  a reality.  

By Araceli Cantero.