Listen to this video to learn more about Story Squad and how it helps youth process and deal with trauma.
Young people pay attention to their peers, neighbors and environment in ways adults sometimes overlook. Story Squad, an audio storytelling program of the YMCA of Metro Chicago's Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) initiative, empowers youth to channel their experiences through personal audio stories that are shared within their community and throughout the world.
“The youth learn what kind of support they might need when difficult thoughts and feelings surface and how to extend that support to their peers,” says Grant Buhr, who developed and runs the program for the YMCA's Youth Safety and Violence Prevention initiative.
Story Squad is a 16-week, curriculum-based program of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) program, which serves young people in neighborhoods with some of Chicago's highest rates of violence. The program focuses on developing self-reflection, critical thinking, self efficacy, and audio production and storytelling skills. Story Squad uses trauma informed group processes that draw on foundational principles in media literacy, restorative justice and cognitive behavioral therapy in order to promote positive youth development.
Through this process, youth can develop the social and emotional skills necessary to process their own experiences with violence and reexamine dominant narratives through the lens of context, place and policy, allowing them to place personal experiences within broader structural inequalities.
The Story Squad pilot program provides 16 weeks of structured two-hour evening programming per community cohort. Each cohort is comprised of 8-11 and 12–19 year olds. Sessions are facilitated by YSVP staff and supported by YSVP interns.
Below are audio diaries from two 2015 Story Squad cohorts. Take a moment to hear the compelling stories of these brave and inspiring youth.
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