future ties, run by Chicago Police Officer Jennifer Maddox, can accommodate 40 children at a time at its basement center in Parkway Gardens. The after-school program provides services to a total of 1,200 children.
“We had to turn away so many young people who never had the opportunity to be part of Future Ties,” she said of her 11-year-old organization. “Some of these young people we have lost to gun violence. If we had room, we might have been able to save their lives. Maybe we could have changed their trajectory somehow.
Maddox’s dream of a bigger space for Future Ties was spurred on by The Beachbody Foundation and the GO Campaignwho pledged $1 million to help turn a former Walgreens store at 6330 S. King Drive into a new home for Future Ties.
“We struggled because we don’t have enough space here,” Maddox said. “And it’s difficult for many kids to get out of the neighborhood and cross the boundaries of gang territory.”
Maddox envisions the 25,000-square-foot space featuring a teen center, parent program space, an area for its hair salon program, a larger kitchen, and a place for kids to run indoors.
“I have a lot of teenagers and kids who are depressed because there’s nothing in this community that they can really enjoy or have access to when it comes to programming or recreation,” Maddox said. “It’s going to open a lot of doors for them and their families.”
Woodlawn residents plan to ring the bells Monday morning outside the old Walgreens as Beachbody Co., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based fitness and wellness company, goes public.
When Beachbody Co. decided to go public, it decided to help a community organization with similar interests. The GO campaign suggested Future Ties.
Future Ties tackles childhood obesity by teaching good nutrition and physical activity and providing healthy meals and snacks to children in the program.
“It’s the exact embodiment of what Beachbody has been doing for 20 years – helping people get active, learning about nutrition, and making them feel like there’s a community that cares about them. help achieve success,” said Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler.
Future Ties’ larger space will also allow desks for services such as mental health counseling, financial literacy classes, access to legal services and help with housing issues.
Due to gun violence in their neighborhood, Maddox stressed the need for accessible mental health services.
“A couple of social service agencies are here to work with us because they know traumatic incidents happen here on a daily basis,” Maddox said. “They not only affect parents, but children. It’s just a trickle down effect.
The new center will accommodate more than 100 children at a time, and Maddox has already heard the excitement of Woodlawn families about the new space.
She hopes the new location will be ready for use by the start of the school year this fall.
“I feel so blessed and so grateful,” Maddox said. “They [Beachbody] are committed to ensuring families have the resources and opportunities.