An Unlikely Bond Between Chicago Teens and Veterans is Saving Lives in the City

August 27, 2018


“These kids are over-alert and watching their backs, even when they’re in the safest environments. They try to explain that feeling to other people who don’t get it. But I do.” Julio Cortes, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and mentor. (NationSwell)"

NationSwell’s Joseph Jaafari spoke with Jadhira Sanchez, Director of Urban Warriors and Julio Cortes, U.S. Marine Corps veteran about the origins of the Y’s Urban Warriors program, how it is structured, and the impact it has had on the youth and military veterans.

Urban Warriors, part of the YMCA’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) initiative, pairs post-911 veterans with youth who have been exposed to violence in Chicago. Together they discuss and process their experiences with violence, develop and share coping skills, and identify the strengths they have developed and how they can channel them to benefit their communities.

Joseph also spoke with William Javier, a participant of the Pilsen and Little Village Urban Warriors cohort. William explained how Urban Warriors helped him go from constantly avoiding violence to the point of secluding himself to his bedroom, to having hope for the future again.

Read the article on NationSwell's website.