The Oak Park Public Library

helping the youngest in our community develop their voice

Reading expands our world while it nurtures critical thinking and self-expression. Young children who have access to pre-K literacy programs, classes and events learn important skills that will help them communicate and engage with others -- in their own voice.

HYPE (Healthy Youth Peer Educators) Offer Information, Not Blame

Advocate Smart, Healthy Alternatives to Alcohol & Marijuana

The HYPE (Healthy Youth Peer Educators) program at Oak Park and River Forest High School plays an important role in communitywide efforts to reduce teen alcohol and substance use.  Twenty-five sophomores, juniors and seniors, serve as peer mentors who encourage fellow students to make informed decisions and embrace healthier habits.  Team members Mary Vestal, Jorge Boyas, and Anna Gagliardo  stopped by Prevention & Wellness Coordinator, Ginger Colamussi’s office to share what HYPE is doing to make a difference.

Finding Where I Belong

Creep (by Radiohead) cover by Scala and the Kolansky Brothers - This is the type of middle school crisis I had: “I don’t belong here”. I am no longer surprised to hear that my peers don’t feel belonging. It’s an elusive emotion, not a concrete destination. I wonder if everyone chases this feeling, or if some are born with a supply stored inside them, never truly being alone and never truly longing.

I can be happy; when the grade is high or the misfortune is low. It doesn’t stick. I am scotch tape, bought a decade and a half ago. You look in the drawer when the new poster is bought. You’re excited and pleased to hang static art on the wall. Then you see that I’m worn down and dull. I will stick to the beauty, hold it there, but I won’t last much longer. I’ll peel away slowly and you will not notice. The image will fall to the floor with me in tow, so you tack on a stronger aid. Only those looking closely will notice the difference. Others are rarely looking closely.

Welding, automotive and the military were the best options for these OPRF grads

Contributing Reporter

WJ logo new2005 color



When he graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School in 1987, Devin Pepper recalls “Oak Park was one of those towns where everyone goes right to college and then figures it out.” He wanted to be a commercial pilot and instead enrolled in vocational classes at Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology in Tulsa. During his first sequence of classes focused on aircraft mechanics, he determined that path was not for him. He returned home and took some classes at Triton before he met with an Air Force recruiter.

SAY partners build sustainable change in our neighborhoods

This summer, SAY launched Neighbors Knowing Neighbors (NKN) – a partnership of area organizations that work together to ensure every child in Oak Park feels known, cared for, and listened to by adults in their neighborhood. 

The Oak Park Regional Housing Center identified neighborhoods where residents face obstacles to connecting and hired interns from those communities to organize a series of block parties. 

The interns managed the process from initial planning and outreach through clean-up. Residents were encouraged to participate and received a block party packet with information they will use to plan and manage future gatherings. Next summer, the NKN partnership will reach out to new neighborhoods, to build sustainable change in our community. 

SAY white375strive togetheroprfcf connect box

Success of All Youth is powered by the Communityworks Fund of the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation.  |  708-848-1560  | 1049 Lake Street, Suite 204  |  Oak Park, IL 60301yt brand standard logo whitetwitter bird white reverseFB white