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 the program for the YMCA's Youth Safety and Violence Prevention initiative.
Story Squad is a 15-week, curriculum-based program of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) program, which serves youth in some of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods. 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 in processing their own experiences with violence. By re-examining dominant narratives through the lens of context, place, and policy, this allows them to place personal experiences within broader structural inequalities.
The Story Squad pilot program provides 15 weeks of structured, two-hour evening programming per community cohort. Each cohort is comprised of children ages 8-11, and teens ages 12– 19. Sessions are facilitated by YSVP staff and supported by YSVP interns.
Below are audio diaries from two 2015 Story Squad cohorts. Please take a moment to hear the compelling stories of these brave and inspiring youth!
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