A “Chill” and Peaceful Summer: CYC receives two new grants to combat seasonal violence

This summer, CYC youth will receive formal de-escalation training and advocate for peace in their communities, thanks to new grants from the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities and the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council.

At CYC-Rebecca K. Crown Youth Center in South Shore, youth are participating in CHILL, an innovative program that uses new research in neuroscience and behavioral science to help youth de-escalate and resolve conflicts. This project is supported by the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

During CHILL sessions, youth learn to recognize the biological effects of anger and confrontation and develop techniques to de-escalate conflicts. They act out scenarios in teams and decide the best way to respond safely and peacefully. Youth also strengthen their ability to communicate effectively, collaborate with diverse groups of people, build positive relationships, overcome obstacles, and lead others responsibly.

Conflict-resolution specialist and South Side native Andra Medea created CHILL in consultation with leaders of the NAACP South Side chapter by using neuroscience research from Yale and the Gottman Institute. The CHILL method and CYC’s participation was recently featured in an article in Washington Post.

“Bringing CHILL to the Rebecca K. Crown Center is an innovative, exciting program that can have national impact,” Medea said. “I look forward to our continued collaboration.”

Youth at CYC-Crown will take what they’ve learned in CHILL back into their community by filming a documentary and creating a community mural focused on peace.

Meanwhile at CYC-Sidney Epstein Youth Center in North Lawndale, youth will use technology to advocate for peace thanks to a grant from the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council.

CYC-Epstein’s Colombia Project is modeled after peace-making tactics created to end years of civil war between rebels and the government of Colombia, South America. In this project, youth will use technology in the CYC Maker Lab such as 3-D printers, vinyl cutters, and digital media software, to create signs, t-shirts, public service announcements, podcasts, and digital art projects that spread their messages of non-violence.

Youth will also learn about restorative justice practices and conflict-resolution, both at CYC-Epstein and through field trips to the DuSable Museum of African American History and the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

By the end of the summer, CYC youth will recognize that they are capable of positive change. By empowering youth to use their voices and skills to advocate for peace, CYC equips the community leaders of tomorrow with new confidence and creates a catalyst for sustainable peace in these Chicago communities.