YMCA of Metro Chicago Recognizes Youth Violence Prevention Week March 23-27, 2015

March 23, 2015


All week we will be sharing a series of video and audio diaries to provide an inside look and greater awareness of what youth in our program, and the communities they represent, experience every day and how steps are being taken to heal and make positive change."

Military veterans and teens from Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood put their hands together in a huddle at Wolf Road Woods in Willow Springs. The outing was part of the Urban Warriors mentoring program the YMCA of Metro Chicago launched to help teens affected by neighborhood violence. Eddie Bocanegra, one of the executive directors of the YMCA initiative, is at far left. Photo courtesy of John J. Kim, Tribune Photos.

Violence in is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research shows that preventing youth violence is an important part of promoting the health and safety of youth, families and communities.

National Youth Violence Prevention Week seeks to educate students, teachers, school staff, parents and the public on effective ways to prevent or reduce youth violence.

The YMCA works every day to transform the lives of people in Chicagoland and beyond. Our Youth Safety and Violence Prevention initiative (YSVP) is a comprehensive, trauma-informed approach that aims to stop violence before it starts or, in some cases, interrupt it early in the cycle to prevent the effects from spreading. The Y’s special programs aim to reduce adverse childhood experiences, building community protective factors, and strengthening human resiliency.

In recognition of National Youth Violence Prevention Week, we will share videos featuring just a few of the dedicated people behind our YSVP programs, as well as audio diaries that provide an inside look at what our youth experience every day:

Join us on Facebook and Twitter each day this week to learn more and provide your insights and solutions for positive change.

Monday, March 23: “A City Full of Circles”

city full of circles video

Listen to this inspirational spoken word poem by Youth Safety and Violence Prevention Co-Executive Director, Ryan Lugalia-Hollon where he frames the program’s premise of “healing is prevention” and inspires us to see that “peace is not only possible, she was born to glisten.”

Share your thoughts on Facebook

Tuesday, March 24: Urban Warriors

Urban Warriors group photo

Listen to youth and recent Iraq war veterans share how the Ys revolutionary new program initiative, Urban Warriors, brings urban youth and recent vets together to heal and reduce the traumatic effects of violence through a 16-week curriculum consisting of 5 thematic areas: belonging, positive identity development, cognitive restructuring, coping, and community engagement.

Share your thoughts on Facebook

Wednesday, March 25: Bridging the Divide

Bridging the Divide

Bridging the Divide in an initiative developed to build relationships between youth, law enforcement officials, and community members by offering opportunities for dialogue through cafés, peace circles, story sharing and more. Listen as participants share their personal experiences to help create a forum for mutual understanding and a path to peace.

Watch the Video: About Bridging the Divide

Featured audio diaries:

Share your thoughts on Facebook

Thursday, March 26: Story Squad Audio Diaries

Story Squad image

Story Squad is an audio storytelling program of the South Chicago’s YMCA’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) empowering youth to channel their local expertise and share their stories with the world. Through this program, self-reflection, critical thinking and storytelling skills are developed to teach youth how to analyze the causes and impact of community violence.

Youth to be featured will include:

Share your thoughts on Facebook

Friday, March 27: NEW! Story Squad Audio Diaries

Stay tuned! A new series of Story Squad audio diaries will be shared on Friday, March 27. These stories will debut Thursday night (March 26) at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts.