ARC has given way to many valuable partnerships, and residents play a leading role in shaping efforts. For example, parents worked with the Addison Early Childhood Collaborative (AECC), a community hub supporting families with kids from birth to age five, to help its services and supports better reflect parents’ needs and hopes. AECC then tapped into the ARC network to meet families where they are—such as laundromats and the library—and streamline access to early childhood education resources in the village.
The library has been a key connector for residents seeking resources, including teens in search of free mental health counseling. There’s also a full-time librarian dedicated to business owners and people seeking employment, and Addison’s library is the first in the state accredited to provide immigration services.
“Through ARC, we’ve been able to pull together our resources and work collaboratively to create and achieve our shared goals for the community,” said Elizabeth Lynch, head of teen services at Addison Public Library.
To help reduce rates of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancies among teens, the health department worked alongside the library to pilot an evidence-based sexual health education curriculum. Resident feedback from parents and teens, collected from English- and Spanish-language focus groups, influenced the curriculum and informed the creation of additional educational programming on mental and sexual health. Since the program’s inception, teen use of the local family health center has increased by 50 percent.
Today, more than 40 percent of Addison residents are Hispanic, and one-third were born outside the United States. People in Addison recognize this evolution in the community, and they’re building an environment that supports residents marginalized by racism and discrimination. School is one setting where the community welcomes diverse perspectives. Students of DuPage High School District 88 are leading change and creating a more inclusive school environment through the Youth Equity Stewardship (YES!) program, for example by hosting a school safety forum where students could bring their concerns and launching a student-led news channel. And Padres Latinos en Acción (Latino Parents in Action) has taken steps to uplift their culture in the community and raise money for student scholarships.