Nonprofit Provides Safe Space For Young People To Showcase Their Creativity

This is Life Co-Founders Natalie and D.A. Manning. The organization was launched
to provide a platform for young people to have a creative outlet. PHOTO PROVIDED BY THIS IS LIFE.
This is Life Co-Founders Natalie and D.A. Manning. The organization was launched to provide a platform for young people to have a creative outlet. PHOTO PROVIDED BY THIS IS LIFE.

Nonprofit Provides Safe Space For Young People To Showcase Their Creativity

By Tia Carol Jones

Natalie and her son D.A. Manning founded This Is Life: Chicago in 2013. D.A. Manning came up with the concept at 11 when he created a piece about the gun violence that was taking place in the city. He turned that piece into a rap and decided he wanted to host his own talent showcase, with the goal of providing a platform for his peers in the city.

This Is Life began as a platform to provide young people with a creative outlet and a safe space for them to showcase their talent. It has evolved throughout the last 11 years, going beyond the performing arts to include sports, and creating home made goods. There also is a community outreach component where each month the organization provides free haircuts to the youth.

“The work This Is Life does supports the community because we’re able to serve various people, not just Black and brown people. It’s open to anyone in the city of Chicago that is in need of our services,” Natalie Manning said.

Natalie Manning said it was embedded in her as a child to help other people. Her grandmother and her mother were always giving to people and helping the children in the community. She also instilled that spirit to give back to her children. She also makes sure that she is able to be a support system to her children when there is something they want to do. D.A. is a performing artist who also has a clothing line, Merchant from Chicago.

Natalie Manning has a personal connection to the gun violence going on in the city. One of her oldest sons was a victim of gun violence. She still kept providing a safe space for young people through This Is Life because she knew how important it was to provide resources and opportunities.

On May 11th, This Is Life hosted a Pre-Mother’s Day Perfume and Soap Making event at Absolutely Anything Essential, located at 3521 S. King Drive. On June 29th, This Is Life will host its 11th Annual Talent Showcase & Resource Expo. It will take place from noon to 3 p.m. at Hamilton Park, located at 513 W. 72nd St. Youth performers, younger than 21, are encouraged to participate. Email bookingsthisislife@gmail.com or call 773-916-7059.

There also will be a Youth vs. Adult Basketball game. The adults will square off against the youth in the community basketball game on July 13th. There will be two Back-to-School events, one with Forman Mills and one that This Is Life will host individually.

This Is Life also partners with Absolutely Anything Essential to host free candle making and body scrub making classes, with the goal of engaging young people.

For more information about This Is Life, visit www.thisislifechi.org.

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