July 25, 2015
The YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) leadership advocated for programs that support “no entry” for youth into the criminal justice system on Capitol Hill and the White House earlier this week.
Dr. Ryan Lugalia-Hollon, YSVP’s former Co-Executive Director, testified at a House Hill Briefing on the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act reauthorization. The bill underwent mark up in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, July 23 and has yet to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice Prevention and Delinquency funds the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Bridging the Divide program. Bridging the Divide helps build relationships between youth, law enforcement officials and other community members by offering opportunities for dialogue through peace circles, cafés and story sharing. YSVP created a toolkit for safe youth-police conversations that other communities and institutions can use to expand this important work.
The panel also featured presentations from Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-California), Founder of the Crime Prevention and Youth Development Caucus; Marcy Mistrett of the Campaign for Youth Justice; Lisa Pilnik of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice; former Judge Amy Davenport of Burlington, Vermont; and Lisette Burton from Boystown in Washington, DC.
In collaboration with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, YMCA’s Meg Helder, Senior Director of Operations of YSVP, and Jill Edelblute, Director of Government Relations, met with President Obama’s staff from My Brother’s Keeper at the White House to discuss Bridging the Divide and Urban Warriors.
The Urban Warriors program pairs youth with recent military veterans, who teach them positive strategies for coping with loss and trauma. The 16-week curriculum consists of five thematic areas: belonging, positive identity development, cognitive restructuring, coping and community engagement.
Lugalia-Hollon, Helder, and Edelblute also shared YSVP’s work with several of Chicago’s Congressional delegation.