Chicago Youth SOS: 8 Ways You Can Respond

August 23rd, 2011

Following up our behind the scenes interview at the premiere of Steve JamesThe Interrupters (2011), this month, Chicagoans would find it hard not notice in the news the increasing number of youth-related violence incidents, youth homelessness, and youth job readiness. Even as the last of Chicago’s housing projects have fallen, a record number of Chicago youth were hit by gunfire in 2010 (700 hit, 66 dead). More than 15,000 homeless and unaccompanied youth living in Chicago; 20-40% identify as LGBTQ.

Here are some ways you can raise consciousness and support positive community initiatives aimed at quelling violence and supporting youth shelters:

Watch the Fear No Art Chicago interview with Steve James, Alex Kotlowitz, and “interrupter” Ameena Matthews.

See The Interrupters, playing through August 28th at the Gene Siskel Film Center. The film plays at the I.C.E. Catham Cinema starting on August 26 for 1 week and opens nationwide this Fall.

Learn about the Center on Halsted‘s response to neighborhood violence, youth homelessnessyouth job readiness, self-defense classes, and We Are Halsted benefit on August 31st.

Attend Unspoken Words art exhibit at Firecat Projects, 2124 N. Damen, on  August 27th and become a fan of One Heart One Soul, an arts initiative, giving voice to homeless youth through fine art and spoken word performance. See my August 9th blog post on Unspoken Words, and hear the NPR feature on Unspoken words this Thursday on the morning show, 848.

Read “There Are No Children Here” by Oak Park resident Alex Kotlowitz, the co-producer of the Steve James (Hoop Dreams, 1994) documentary The Interrupters about Ceasefire, a public health initiative engaging former gang members to act as “violence interrupters” in Chicago. The film was inspired by a cover story on CeaseFire that Kotlowitz wrote for the New York Times Magazine in 2008.

Revisit Oprah Winfrey’s eponymous adaptation of Kotlowitz’s book, There Are No Children Here (Director Anita W. Addison, 1993).

Follow NPR’s special series on Youths And Gun Violence: Chicago’s Challenge.

Read about Chicago Public Schools Safe Passage Program to help school children travel to and from school safely.

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