As the inaugural faculty fellow of the Urban Health Initiative, I worked with Sociology graduate student Alicia Riley to design and launch a community-engaged research project, called the South Side Youth Violence Prevention Project. We partnered with the Chicago YMCA’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) office to design and launch Story Squad. Story Squad is a violence intervention program that combines training in audio production and storytelling with critical thinking and self-reflection to enable youth to process and analyze the causes and impacts of violence in their communities. The program emerged out of the shared conviction that young people have valuable insights about violence and trauma that are too often ignored by adults. Story Squad empowers youth to unlock their voices and share their brilliance with the world. They are experts with valuable knowledge to share.
Over the course of four months, fifteen youth participated in an intensive, hands-on training provided by me, Alicia Riley, and Grant Buhr (SSA). Each youth wrote, recorded, edited, and engineered a number of original audio stories.