Raven Lewis, a dancer with Move Me Soul dance company, teaches a West African-inspired dance to festival attendees at the GhanAgain Festival at Austin Town Hall Park on Sept. 10. | Shanel Romain

Chicago Austin Youth Travel Adventures (CAYTA), a nonprofit that promotes travel for West Side young people, held their second annual GhanAgain Festival on Sept. 10 at Austin Town Hall Park, 5610 W. Lake St.

The free event is designed to encourage community members to reconnect to their African roots.

During Saturday’s event, attendees enjoyed the rhythmic sound of drums playing as the Move Me Soul dance company conducted a Ghanaian-inspired dance workshop.

The Ghanian flag undulated in the breeze as vendors displayed and sold various African items and clothes.

The GhanAgan Festival is named after Gone Again Travel and Tours, the first Black-owned storefront travel agency on the West Side.

Crystal Dyer, who owns Gone Again and is the founder of CAYTA, said she’s a firm believer in the power of travel as a way to educate and empower inner-city young people.

During Saturday’s festival, some young people invited attendees to learn the dances that they had to learn in preparation for their two-week trip to Ghana in August. That trip was made possible by CAYTA.

“We help get the kids off the block and into the world,” Dyer said. “We want to get them out of the community, so we took some of them to Ghana in West Africa. Our CAYTA program provides mental health services and referral services for education. They can learn about history. This is a history-driven program.”

Amaya Lindor, 12, Alyssa Lindor, 11, and Oceanna Tyler-Hudson, 14, were in the group that went to Ghana in August.

“My experience in Ghana was amazing,” Tyler-Hudson said. “It was different and it’s nothing like it’s portrayed in the media at all. It’s a really nice place.”

Lindor said the trip to Ghana changed her worldview and upended many of the stereotypes she encounters about the country.

Dyer said those mental connections and new curiosities are the point of traveling outside of America.

“If you keep your child’s mind busy, they will keep out of trouble,” Dyer said.

CONTACT: michael@austinweeklynews.com