SUMMER PROGRAM UPDATES

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As we get ready for school to start, we are looking back at all the work we’ve done this summer providing opportunities for young people to develop creative projects. Together, we’ve organized special performances, skill-building activities, trips around the city, and experiential learning.

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Restorative Justice Summer Fellowship

While learning about the philosophy and practices of Restorative Justice, our 10 RJ Fellows developed a strong group value system and challenged themselves to live those values. After the first 3 weeks of intensive training, our Fellows have had the opportunity to put these skills into practice by facilitating community-building Circles and activities within other youth programs around the city. Our Fellows are expressing greater confidence in their RJ practices and a greater understanding of themselves.

Summer Camp

From visiting magician acts, to water parks, to history and science museums, our Summer Camp participants have been out and about the city all summer! Youth ages 11-15 have had the chance to develop interpersonal skills, be active, explore their interests, and express themselves. Periodically, they documented their experiences into the Alternatives Magazine, a one-page news piece highlighting the activities they did that week and profiling one of the youth in the program.

Urban Arts Program

Our Urban Arts participants at two program sites, our Uptown Youth Center and at Sullivan HS, explored themes of gun violence, racial injustice, and other forms of discrimination through skits, music, visual arts, and poetry, particularly using hay(na)kus – 6 word poems with a flexible form and presentation. In the final showcase at Sullivan, participants presented speeches to politicians and community members, spoken word monologues about gun violence, short skits about racial profiling and stereotyping, and a collage depicting an ideal community. Throughout performances, the participants also offered statistics to the audience relating to the disproportionate challenges facing people of color across America. Click here to see a short video of participants rehearsing a skit.

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Youth Participatory Action Research

Our Youth Participatory Action Research participants built relationships and discussed different aspects of violence from self-harm, to interpersonal violence, to systematic violence. The groups created a merchandise line of printed t-shirts and hoodies that address immigration and related issues, an anti-bullying app, an anti-violence skit/music video modeled after Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” to be shared on social media, and a newscast documenting news stories dealing with violence in Chicago and the impact it has on communities.

Girl World

Wellness is this year’s summer theme for the girls of Girl World. The girls have been building community and developing their sense of identity that’s rooted in self-awareness, an essential foundation for them as they enter into the new school year. Throughout the summer, the girls have created conversation around weekly themes of self-care, identity, and empowerment. Choosing “Be You” as the theme for their final presentation, the girls presented home-made bath bombs and face masks and explained the process of making them, demonstrated how to make fresh smoothies and explained the health benefits of chocolate, strawberries, and bananas, and presented a short play about peer pressure and the importance of being yourself after being inspired by a field trip to see a play.

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I AM U Mentoring Program

This summer, we introduced a new mentoring program, I Am U, focused on community and civic engagement. The program provides a space for young men to develop into leaders with three core goals — to encourage self-empowerment, practice servant leadership, and create and foster connections and networks. Our staff are working together with a group of students from Carnegie Elementary H.S. to assess community needs. Next week, the mentors and mentee’s will give back to their communities by working with You Can Make, Inc. to clean the interior and exterior.

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