January 26, 2016
On Jan. 25, NPR’s All Things Considered aired a story about the collaborative, community-building work of the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Urban Warriors program. Host Audie Cornish visited the Kelly Hall YMCA late last year to meet with Eddie Bocanegra, co-executive director of the Y’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention program, along with several Urban Warriors youth and their veteran mentors, and discuss the program and its impact on youth in the community.
Urban Warriors is a dynamic peer support group in which youth from Chicagoland’s historically underserved neighborhoods are connected with recent military veterans in a safe, secure environment that fosters character development, team building and trust. Drawing parallels across their shared experiences with loss, grief and violence, youth develop positive coping strategies that strengthen their resiliency and further their personal growth.
Since its launch in 2014, four cohorts totalling more than 90 youth have graduated from the Urban Warriors 16-week program. The curriculum was developed with input from veterans, community-based organizations and universities, and the weekly sessions are facilitated by Y staff.
On behalf of our youth, veterans and outreach workers, the YMCA of Metro Chicago thanks NPR for this opportunity to share the impactful work we do every day with communities across the Chicagoland area.
Listen to the story and view photos of an Urban Warriors Saturday session.
Watch a video about Urban Warriors.
Express your interest in mentoring an Urban Warrior.
Support the program with an online donation.
Photo courtesy of Alyssa Schukar for NPR.