Teen Leadership Connection Visits O'Hare Airport


On Saturday, May 6th, 42 members o f the South Region Teen Leadership Connection (TLC), led by Chicago Park District Area Manager Sabrina Steward, visited the City of Chicago Aviation Department, the Chicago Fire Department, and American Airlines at O'Hare Airport. The field trip was a part of TLC's vision to provide teens on the South Side of Chicago with a variety of workforce opportunities as they transition into adulthood.

About TLC

TLC is a teen-led group that consists of 189 teen members from across the South region of the city. The group was created for teens to have a voice in what park activities, trips, and events they want in Chicago Park District programming. The program focuses on teaching the importance of volunteering and giving back to the community and providing access to positive, innovative, and educational activities throughout the city.

The Field Trip


The day started at 9 am with a tour of the City of Chicago Aviation Department. The teens learned about jobs related to the operational side of O’Hare, including motor truck drivers and the aircraft maintenance crew. The employees showed the teens how they operate heavy equipment and keep the airport clean and safe from debris.

Next, the group toured Boeing 757 airplanes courtesy of American Airlines. They were able to explore all areas of the plane including the cockpit. They learned how pilots collaborate for safe take off and landing, conduct maintenance, problem solve, store luggage, and keep the aircraft safe.

After a delicious lunch courtesy of Corner Bakery, the group headed to the Chicago Fire Department. They learned what firefighters do when there is an emergency on a plane and got to test out their knowledge in a simulator! They were also able to tour another simulator plane that firefighters use to train. The plane is comprised of weighted mannequins representing passengers and shoots out real fire (which was turned off during the tour). The teens experienced how it feels to be a firefighter in an emergency situation.

The Impact

The employees leading the group reviewed professional expectations that the teens should consider if they want pursue the field of aviation, including keeping clean criminal and driving records. One firefighter specifically showed the group how to go online and print out a job application. Sabrina said that the trip definitely sparked the group’s interest in the aviation field, which many teens had not thought of as an option beforehand. Overall, it was an exciting day for the teens to experience something different outside of their neighborhood!

Most of the teens have never been close to an airplane or close to an airport. This was great because they actually got to sit in the seats and learn about different job opportunities.
— Sabrina Steward, TLC Manager