March 23, 2017
On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 15 teens from the Pilsen, Little Village, Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and South Chicago neighborhoods came together to present their final digital storytelling projects with the community at the Story Squad Showcase. Excited chatter and the aroma of delicious food filled the room as more than 150 friends, family, volunteers, and donors took their seats, anticipating the live performances and productions. The intimate Performance Penthouse with incredible views of the sunset was popular with the audience, as well as the listening stations where they could preview productions the Story Squad had developed over the past 16 weeks.
The Y’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention’s creative arts program Story Squad empowers at-risk youth and gives them the platform and tools to share their stories and visions about their peers, neighbors, and surroundings, in a different light than what adults might experience. The event took place at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. The showcase featured powerful multimedia productions and live performances by the teens.
Giovanni Hernandez was the first to share his video, Pain, with a story about living with PTSD. It was a powerful way to open up the event, followed by a mix of audio poems, songs, and stories about the traumatic experiences the kids have gone through, but also about their dreams. The live performances consisted of poems and songs by Miguel, Damarian, Alisha and Nick, all whom were received with tremendous support by their peers and their YMCA mentors.
The last piece was Jalisa Hooks’ video, My Granny. She used interviewing skills she learned from the program to get her grandmother’s insight on her past and her opinions about the violence in Chicago. The audience was moved and later applauded Granny (Grace Rogers) who was present at the showcase.
Damarian hopes that his video Failure “will give people an insight on what’s really going on besides what everybody sees, that’s not the true story.” During the Q&A session, the audience asked the youth how they will use the skills they learned in Story Squad in the future. Damarian said, “I’m a rapper, so I’m planning on making a career out of this.” Others shared that they want to learn even more about audio and video production in college and Miguel said he wants to be like Grant Buhr, the founder of Story Squad. Gio wants to use the productions he’s created in Story Squad to work with social workers and provide with expertise to the people who work with kids like him.
Story Squad is made possible through the generous support of A Foundation to Be Named Later, Allstate, Boeing, Chicago Teachers Union, City of Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, Claretian Associates, Little Village Youth Safety Network and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Story Squad hopes to expand to six sites serving 200 youth annually. Additional community support is needed to help us reach this goal. Donate now.