A participant in the Story Squad
Jan 1, 2018

Storytelling Helps Chicago Youth Overcome Adversity

Last Tuesday, the Youth Safety and Violence Prevention’s Story Squad showcased audio stories the youth worked on through the fall of 2017. The youth recalled memories and events they experienced in their neighborhoods and shared some of the issues they struggle with everyday. This year, 16 youth from the Humboldt Park, Pilsen and South Chicago cohorts participated in the program. The program and the event was covered by Tony Briscoe and Armando L. Sanchez from the Chicago Tribune. Read the article on the Chicago Tribune website.

The showcase started with a rap performance by Humboldt Park youth Davosier, “Story My Story”. The audience was attentive as he sang, “you got a head, use it, don’t drown in it.” His song is about his dreams for his community and himself. After the show starter, Chico Tillmon, Executive Director of YSVP acknowledged the audience, thanking them for attending the event and telling them to “let the youth inspire [them] tonight.”

Caylah from Humboldt Park shared “Daddy’s Girl”, and explained how her father was ripped away from her by the justice system and how this influenced her behavior. Another story by Aniboli of the Little Village/Pilsen cohort, described the struggle of being conflicted with supporting family and being involved in gangs. Shamari’s “Transformation” is about how she lost her grandmother, a critical person in her like and how this incident affected her behavior in a negative way. Later, an epiphany, in form of a dream helped changed her life for the better.

Breanna’s performance of her story, “Miss Unknown” got a big reaction and standing ovation from the crowd. “Miss Unknown” is about a young girl’s troubling childhood. As she grows older, she learns to forgive and uses her experiences as motivation.

South Chicago’s Jordan, shared his story about a young boy who struggles with staying out of trouble, despite making promises to his mother. Jose from the Little Village/Pilsen cohort, revealed what it is like to be on both ends of reality, through the perspectives of a victim and a perpetrator in “Green Hoodie”. Alisha closed the show with a performance of her song “I Put My Real Feelings”. In the song, she speaks about a young girl who struggles with anxiety while trying to deal with reality.

After the performances, the audience had a chance to ask the youth questions and gain insight about how the program works. Alisha explained that the process was difficult for her at first. She said she was scared at first and did not want to feel vulnerable, “but writing it down on paper and telling people what I’m going through, it felt real good… at the end of the program we felt like a family, you become comfortable because you're telling your story and they're not judging you.”