Off The Street Club is Chicago’s oldest Boys and Girls club. It exists to provide an escape to these children and their daily concerns pertaining to their safety and survival in an often violent neighborhood. This is a place where kids can just be for a day, or even a moment. Where they don’t need to worry about anything other than just being a kid among their peers, and knowing they are safe. Where they can smile, play and learn while surrounded and inspired by positive role models.
This year, The Mill team worked on a film for Off The Street Club to help support their annual fundraising efforts, capturing snippets of life from some of the children that go to the club. Throughout the film, they talk us through the ‘tips’ you need to know when growing up in one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods, highlighting that ‘Some kids are plagued by more than a virus’.
On the project, Director Al Benoit said: “Working with the kids of OTSC was truly an enlightening experience, one I’ll never forget, ever. I went in knowing this would be a humbling, rewarding process, but I came away with so much more. I came away with a greater outlook on life, all because of the kids. Their kindness, passion, and tenacity was simply astounding. When I learned about their life circumstances, my respect and admiration for them grew exponentially. I know mature, established adults that if they faced with a single issue these kids are dealing with, would … have a hard time pulling it together. These kids were 5-16, had a whole raft of problems on the home front, and they were not only holding it together, they were making themselves better. A lot of them have taken brutally, brutally difficult life circumstances and have grown into thoughtful and mature individuals.”
We’d like to extend a special thank you to Arnett Morris and the whole team at Off The Street Club for inviting us into their space.