News / Insights

Roots for a Strong Youth Summer

  • Sana Jafri



the part of a plant which attaches it to the ground or to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant via numerous branches and fibers.

Roots are foundational to plants. Although often unseen to the naked eye, we know they are essential for growth, resilience, and overall health.

At the Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX), one of CLX’s research based-beliefs is that learning is relational. High-quality learning and work emphasize the importance of positive relationships for youth development. See Search Institute’s research on the importance of developmental relationships in youth success linked here.

Similar to plants, learners need strong roots and support from their peers and mentors to overcome challenges and to grow.

However, roots can only flourish also when their ecosystem—the soil, water, and air—are healthy.

As we embark into summer learning and work in Chicago, let’s remember the metaphor and lessons of the natural world. CLX members and our larger ecosystem are doing the work to establish strong roots for our city’s youth to flourish.

Before anything, we thank you for that commitment because you’re ESSENTIAL to creating a positive, fun, and strong Chicago! And, secondly, remember that you’re not doing it alone. CLX and our larger network is here to foster interconnection and an exchange of resources and best practices for YOU, the trusted adults and organization's in a young person’s life.

Finally, it isn’t over yet. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, the out-of-school time community is facing an unhealthy environment but is even more crucial for supporting youth with alternative and vital outcomes such as joy in learning and work, love through care and belonging, and hope and agency in building a brighter and more equitable post-pandemic future.

Thank you for establishing strong roots in Chicago this summer and beyond.