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Daley celebrates After School Matters' 20th anniversary

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday marked the 20th anniversary of the After School Matters program in Chicago.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley filled in for his wife Maggie at an event celebrating the milestone at Daley Plaza. Mrs. Daley founded the program.

Since leaving office in mid-May, Daley has traveled to Russia, signed on to lecture at the University of Chicago and joined a law firm. Mrs. Daley continues her life's work, helping inner-city teens tap into their passion.

"It really gives people structure. It allows them to discipline themselves. Academic performance is good, graduation rates are good. These young people have a purpose in life. And give all the credit to Maggie, not to me," Daley told ABC7's Ben Bradley.

In 1991, Chicago's former first lady planted an idea that bloomed on a long-vacant piece of land in the heart of Chicago's Loop. The mayor still remembers an aide coming to him with an anonymous pitch.

"He explains someone is going to put some tents up and I said, 'whose crazy idea is this?' What are we doing?' David said, 'it's Maggie's.' I said, 'I'll be right back. That is a great idea!' We're going to go ahead with this idea and do it," he said.

That first summer 260 kids spent their summer learning about music. This summer, 20,000 will immerse themselves in everything from theater to technology, art to architecture.

"Skateboard design. Basically, we look at the composition and see how we can approach it as an art piece," said Armani Howard, After School Matters participant.

Daley checked in on students designing a mosaic they are creating for an underpass on the Museum Campus.

"It really made me feel like, 'I did that! It's really awesome,'" said Desiree Jackson, After School Matters participant.

Mrs. Daley missed Wednesday morning's celebration of her beloved program. Cancer and its ill effects sent her to the hospital for much of last week. Her husband says she hasn't lost her fight.

"She really believes that, like anything else, she can do it and she's been doing it for many, many years...But it's been a couple of challenging weeks. She'll overcome this," Daley said.

The mayor says Mrs. Daley has not been able to travel with him, but she is still enjoying having him around the house more, to a degree. It's clear both Daleys are settling into their new roles supporting Chicago's cultural programs and institutions, while steering clear of politics.

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