CIW YOU(th) Rub Shoulders with High-Profile Speakers @ Edison Talks

NBA legend Grant Hills and other famous speakers made time to meet and motivate Chicago teens.

About 450 at-risk Chicago Public High School students mingled with NBA All-star Grant Hill and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel during a Thursday morning breakfast to kick off CIW’s exclusive, daylong event Thursday: Edison Talks. 
Hill was one of several incredible speakers – such as Jessica Buchanan, who survived being kidnapped by pirates, Grammy-nominated musician Peter Himmelman, fashion designer Donna Karan, Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian and more to share their stories surrounding the theme of departure. 
Mayor Rahm Emanuel bonds with CIW YOU(th) participants.
“It’s great to have people from all different walks of life, of all different industries come together under a shared topic,” Hill said. 
Himmelman, sporting a black hat and strumming his guitar to accent different points of his talk, instructed the audience to take time during his talk to tell people they love how they felt. And the musician put his time where his mouth was – he took the time to meet with the teenagers after the show to connect and act as a mentor.
”I like kids,” Himmelman said. “Childhood holds within it the possibility that people are open to ideas…the (CIW YOU(th) kids I talked to via Skype last week, they were neat. They’re kids and they’ll always be kids their entire life open to possibility.”
One of those youth, Joseph Jones, took the stage to share his personal story of departure. He went from being born into an Englewood family involved in gangs to selling drugs to becoming a CIW YOU(th) leader and applying for college scholarships. Jones said he was surrounded by violence, shootings and death until EMBARC, an empowerment program for high school students, saved his life – and now he wants to do the same for other young people.
Edison Talks Speaker Joseph Jones
“There’s no words,” he said after speaking. “I had a chance to influence and be a part of something bigger than me or anything else.”
Speaker Charity Tillemann-Dick had her own brush with death. She told the audience how she became ill and needed a double-lung transplant. She flatlined twice on the operating table. 
“Balancing on mortality’s blade is a great place to gain cosmic understanding,” Tillemann-Dick said.
And after one of her surgeries, she needed to have her chest open, heart exposed for two weeks. Not only has she recovered, but she is a soprano who belted out a haunting performance.
“The only thing that will allow us to transcend death is love,” she said. “The fountain does exist in each of our bodies or souls in an inexhaustible supply.”
Photography by: Steven Richards (Hill, Emanuel) & Kathleen Virginia Photography (Jones)

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