March 19, 2015
WTTW-TV featured Urban Warriors, a program of the Y’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention initiative, on its broadcast of “Chicago Tonight” (3/18). Urban Warriors connects military veterans of recent wars with youth who have experienced trauma or violence and live in high-crime neighborhoods. Correspondent Brandis Friedman interviewed program participants and YSVP co-director Eddie Bocanegra to explore how sharing traumatic experiences benefits both youth and veterans.
“In the city of Chicago’s 77 communities, if you are born in a specific zip code, then that determines a lot of your trajectory,” Bocanegra said. “And that trajectory could be from accomplishing high school to ending up in prison, or more like being a victim. To being a person who’s actually excelling, who is going to a good school, who is going to—you know chances are going to be going to college—and so forth.”
Viewers also gained insight on how teaching young men coping skills for processing anger and fear can help serve as an alternative to gang involvement. To date, 10 veterans have mentored 30 youth across two-pilot cohorts of the Urban Warriors program, which recently received a $500,000 award from the MacArthur Foundation for expansion to more neighborhoods.
View the full episode and web extra video featuring co-director, Eddie Bocanegra’s personal story, which led him to develop the Urban Warriors program, and what he hopes to achieve with it.