Summers in Pilsen can be full of many festivals and events, but sometimes our summers need more than just these things. Our comunidad needs spaces and events for our families and our youth. In 2022, Leonardo Quintero officially founded Peace in Pilsen with his son Romeo. And we are so grateful that they decided to make it happen!
You can pass by a block like Cullerton Avenue and Wood Street and you’ll see young boys and girls playing basketball side by side, and the smiles of parents sitting in lawn chairs watching from a distance as they enjoy the summer in a peaceful and fun way. It is so refreshing to see families together taking over our streets and feeling at home.
Inspired by the old programs like B-Ball on the Block and Hoops in the Hood, they decided to bring those kinds of programs back. Leonardo and Romeo saw the need for youth programming in that area. “A youth mentioned being interested in gaming more than basketball. So we were able to create a gaming event that took place at El Paseo Garden”, Leonardo said.
Peace in Pilsen listens to the youth even if it’s just an idea for a new kind of event. Sometimes our youth need support to bring their ideas to life. Leonardo works alongside other community members dedicated to preventing violence. Felipe Luna, a long time Pilsen resident, is also a part of the program. “We originated by a grassroots initiative and our purpose is helping parents keep their kids out of trouble,” shared Luna.
Peace in Pilsen truly gives a positive vibe in the community! You can notice how proud the youth look in their Peace in Pilsen gear. It really gives the community hope.
As much as people notice the demographics changing in Pilsen there are still many youth and families living in Pilsen that need safe and nurturing spaces. Leonardo and Romeo asked themselves a few years back, “How do we give our community peace of mind?” They have now created a way for the youth and their families to feel that way by getting involved in positive activities and meaningful circles.
“Having ‘father figure and me’ events [through] men’s circles for the parents or dads, father figures, step parents, whatever it is, and…young people…We kind of teach that positive male interaction and then we put it into practice that same day,” he said. “In order to create a healthier bond with dad and son or dad and daughter, whatever [that relationship] may be.”
The youth initiative just kicked off this year and they truly stand by what they want to see, and that is friendship, kinship and happy, healthy male relationships among the youth.
What is their vision or goal for Pilsen? “To build enough community and create a dense deterrence for violence,” Leonardo said.
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