March 27, 2015
Young people pay attention to their peers, neighbors and environment in ways adults sometimes overlook. Story Squad, a new audio storytelling program of the South Chicago YMCA’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP), empowers youth to channel their experiences through personal audio stories that are shared within their community and throughout the world.
The curriculum focuses on self-reflection, critical thinking and storytelling skills to help the youth analyze and process the causes and impact of violence in their communities. “The youth learned what kind of support they might need when difficult thoughts and feelings surface and how to extend that support to their peers,” says Grant Buhr, who developed and runs the program.
During National Youth Violence Prevention Week (March 23-27), this year's Story Squad producers from South Chicago shared their aspirations and experiences through impactful stories at a special listening event on March 26. The program, which started in 2014, has grown to 15 participants. The three youth who completed the program last year returned to serve in leadership roles.
“What I've seen most in the youth as we've gone through the curriculum this year is an increase in emotional intelligence, self awareness and the ability to connect difficult feelings and emotions with their experiences,” adds Grant. “I also saw a sense of pride that their stories are heard because they have much to teach the rest of us.”
Sharon Miller is the first female to complete the program. Listen to her story.