GRAND CROSSING — Barack Obama made a surprise visit to school some growing community leaders at the Gary Comer Youth Center on Saturday.
Obama dropped in on the first leadership training day held by his foundation, where 150 people were surprised to see him walk out and start grilling them on their ideas for their communities.
“When I left the White House, I thought to myself, 'What’s the single thing that I could do that’s the most impactful in this next phase of my life?'” Obama said, according to a Facebook video of the event. “I realized that the best way for me to get to that is to train the next generation of leaders and to pass the baton, so you all can make change in your communities.”
The group soon found out that meant having the former president play devil's advocate as they pitched ideas to improve financial literacy or solve the problems of food deserts.
Chynna Hampton of Bronzeville and her group had Obama pushing them to take the perspective of the entrenched interests in their community to understand why they’re not offering healthier food options if they want to change the current offerings.
“They may load up on healthy options, but if everyone is going across the street to the store that sells chips and soda pop, then they might end up losing customers,” Obama said. “You have to analyze how this small-business owner thinks about it. What pressure is he or she under to make a profit?”
The group was made up of people ages 18-24 there for a day of putting civics into action, programming that is expected to move to the Obama Presidential Center once it opens in 2021 in Jackson Park.