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Young Documentary Filmmakers Working With Chicago Police To Uplift City's Communities

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Summer is winding down, at least summer internships are. Wrapping up tomorrow: a special leadership program for more than 70 teens and young adults. They've been tasked with uplifting Chicago communities; no small feat.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory takes us inside one group's final project.

Usually video production is our job: setting the shot, adjusting the microphone. and asking lots of questions.

But recently CBS 2 watched a group of teen producers go through those motions. Their profile on an Englewood entrepreneur is part of a final project for a summer leadership program run by One Summer Chicago and City Colleges of Chicago.

The documentary makers are on the Youth District Advisory Council for the Chicago Police Department's 7th (Englewood) District. They work with community policing officers and CPD's Restorative Justice Strategies Department to figure out ways to repair relationships in their neighborhood.

"I feel like us, as youth people, have a lot of power in our voices; and sometimes we don't have that platform," said Andrea Hernandez, 20.

She's been involved in the program for three summers in a row.

"Seeing them come in wanting to make a change in their community, it's so amazing," said Hernandez of new participants, including her 7th District sidekicks: 16-year-old Troy Haynes and 17-year-old Ashanti Aguilera.

"I'm somebody that don't talk to a lot of people, that don't socialize. I had decided to join to get out there in the world," said Haynes.

And he did.

Haynes and the crew brought their gear to Healthy Place, a budding urban farm.

"We will be teaching the youth how to cook with these," said founder Delbert Howell, pointing to radish, peashoots and other salad ingredients growing in his basement.

His blossoming business aims to use indoor and outdoor techniques like aquaponics to teach children about microgreens.

"How to use them on plates and meals; and then also selling them to chefs, restaurants, and redistribution facilities," said Howell of how he'll keep his non-profit sustainable beyond donations.

He first created culinary classes called "Healthy Plates" in 2018. The idea: to teach nutritious recipes to kids grew and grew to almost 100 little chefs.

Then the pandemic hit. Howell took "Healthy Plates" virtual, but had another dream: "Healthy Place," where he could teach what he grows.

Like any good story, this one has a twist: Howell is not just an entrepreneur.

"I am the youth liaison officer of the 3rd District," he said, smiling.

Officer Howell runs the non-profit in his spare time. CPD days off can by hard to come by. Given that, CBS 2 asked the kids their biggest lesson of the summer and their answer made sense.

"Not all cops are bad," said Aguilera.

It's a message they hope their camera conveys to friends, family, and the greater community.

The 7th District documentary about "Healthy Place" will eventually be available on social media.

The Youth Advisory Council from the Austin area also recently completed a film highlighting assets in their community from a youth perspective. Their watch party is on Friday.

Each police district works with a Youth Advisory Council all year long on a variety of issues.

The summer program specifically trains youth leaders for these boards.

One Summer Chicago will be spotlighting the Youth District Advisory Council program and Austin documentary in the end of summer graduation ceremony tomorrow (Friday) on YouTube live at 10 a.m.

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