District 211's Benjamin Durchslag Honored as 2016 Illinois Outstanding Young Person

The Illinois Jaycees selected Benjamin Durchslag, a Chicago resident, as an honoree of its Outstanding Young Persons of Illinois award's program. The Outstanding Young Person (TOYP) program annually recognizes young people throughout Illinois who excel in their chosen fields, endeavors and show a great commitment to their respective communities. Durchslag, 30, is being recognized in the category of contribution to children, world peace, and/or human rights.

Durchslag is a School Social Worker at District 211 Academy North, an alternative high school that provides students the opportunity to adjust to change and recover from adversity and challenge. Through Durchslag's efforts and innovative methods, his students are gaining the tools and abilities to get along with others to resolve their differences peacefully. Last spring, he piloted the "Peace Games" at Academy-North as test run that proved so successful the school is implementing the idea on a broader scale this year.

In addition, Durchslag has developed a partnership with Harper College to host monthly community circle talks which has shown very positive results. The high school students are building a connection and seeing a future for themselves as potential college students.

Durchslag also serves a mentor to young people running Speak Up Chicago, an open mic night that raises awareness about violence in Chicago communities. He is also the head coach for Chicago Area Alternative League (CAAEL), a league that rewards students doing well to play different Alterative School teams once a week in various sports and activities.

Durchslag graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor degree in Psychology and Communication Studies and earned his graduate degree from the University of Chicago in Social Services Administration.

"Creating restorative spaces where people from different walks of life can connect with their basic goodness, speak their truth, and develop empathy for one another has become an increasingly clear purpose for my life," said Durchslag. "This award inspires me to continue helping others cultivate courage to transform their lives and let those experiences ripple out to impact their circle of influence and society at large."

The Illinois Jaycees will honor Durchslag at an awards banquet on May 14th, 2016 at the Wyndham Springfield-City Centre. The event is supported by friends and employers of the honorees, local Jaycee organizations, Illinois businesses such as Coyote Logistics and the Illinois Jaycees Charitable Foundation. Friends and local businesses can purchase an ad or become a TOYP patron in the banquet awards program to offer congratulations to the honoree. Banquet tickets and program ads can be purchased at

"Ben has shown a profound commitment to fostering peace and mentoring young people both locally and around the world, said Traci Hinshaw, 2015 President of the Palatine Jaycees. "The Palatine Jaycees were honored to nominate him for this well deserving award."


Leadership development through community involvement has been the basis of the Jaycees since its inception in 1920. The goal of the not-for-profit organization is to provide members a means to reach their full potential through networking and personal growth opportunities and is ideal for proactive young people, ages 18 to 40. Members enhance a variety of skills as they work together to plan and run civic and individual development activities in their home communities and chapters. Illinois is the largest Jaycee states in the United States. To locate a chapter nearest to you, visit

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