The new programme will use arts and sport-based activities to meet the urgent need to strengthen the resilience of Chicago’s youth who are most vulnerable to violence.
2 September 2019 – CHICAGO/ILLINOIS: Generations For Peace, a leading global peacebuilding NGO based in Jordan, is piloting “Youth Sport and Arts for Resilience (Youth SOAR),”its first US-based youth-led peacebuilding programme, in collaboration with Laureus Sport For Good Foundation USA (Laureus USA) and Gary Comer Youth Center in Chicago’s South Side.
With the generous support of Laureus, Generations For Peace and Gary Comer Youth Center will begin implementing “Youth SOAR,” an innovative programme which combines Gary Comer Youth Center’s experience implementing high-quality youth programming in Greater Grand Crossing – a South Side Chicago neighborhood that has been heavily affected by gun violence –with Generations For Peace’s comparative international experience engaging youth to lead change to reduce local issues of violence and conflict in their own communities in diverse contexts around the world.
“Youth SOAR” will train, mentor, and support ten older youth from Greater Grand Crossing as Delegates to implement weekly sport and arts activities with 100 younger local youth, who will then be responsible for organising four community engagements with other local youth. This will give them opportunities to demonstrate their leadership and to experience, often for the first time, the feeling of being trusted by authority figures and appreciated for their contribution to the community. In total, the programme will benefit 930 youth and is expected to reduce levels of youth violence, strengthen youth resilience to violence, and increase youth’s sense of belonging to a positive peer group.
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO of Laureus said, “We are honored to support YOUTH SOAR in their efforts to better serve children and youth in Chicago that are affected by the widespread violence in their communities. We look forward to having them play a critical role in our collective impact initiative, Sport for Good Chicago, and sharing their global knowledge and experiences with our partners city-wide”.
Ayoka Samuels, Director of Gary Comer Youth Center, said, “In 2018 alone, Chicago witnessed 572 murders – more than New York City and Los Angeles combined – most of which took place in the city’s most disadvantaged communities, where violence acutely affects teens and young adults of color. Running parallel to Gary Comer Youth Center’s aim of providing a safe and supportive environment for youth after school, on weekends, and during school hours, ‘Youth SOAR’ will use innovative approaches to everyday activities, empowering local young people to change attitudes, behaviors, and relationships leading to violence. With the support of Laureus USA, we are thrilled to be working alongside Generations For Peace, whose expertise in Sport and Arts For Peace activities around the globe will leave an impact in our community as it has in so many others.”
Dr Mohanned Arabiat, President of Generations For Peace, commented, “As a global Jordanian NGO, Generations For Peace has seen first-hand the effects of conflict and violence throughout our work in 50 countries around the world. Over the past 12 years, we have also seen the importance and power of youth-led grassroots programming in transforming conflict and building peace. We are excited to partner with Laureus USA and Gary Comer Center to implement our innovative programming for the first time in the Americas to engage and empower youth to create positive change in their local communities.”
Generations For Peace, which opened its first US office in July 2019, plans to continue working with Gary Comer Youth Center and Laureus Sport for Good USA, scaling these pilot activities in Greater Grand Crossing, elsewhere in Chicago, and other major US cities in the future.