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Youth SOAR

Partners: Laureus Sport For
Good Foundation USA | 
Gary Comer Youth Center
GFP vehicle: Sport and Arts For Resilience

Years: 2019 – 2020

In 2016, the population in Chicago, Illinois, experienced a dramatic increase in homicides, rising from 485 people murdered in 2015 to 764 murdered in 2016, ranking it as the American city with the highest number of total homicides since 2012. One-quarter of Chicago’s population of 2.7 million is at risk of involvement in criminal activity, and the city is among the country’s most racially and economically divided. Most violent crimes occur in five of its most disadvantaged communities on the west and south sides of Chicago: Austin, Englewood, New City, West Englewood, and Greater Grand Crossing. This violence acutely affects youth of colour: African Americans comprise about one-third of the Chicago population but a staggering 80% of its homicide victims. Black men between the ages of 15-34 make up only 4% of the people in Chicago but 50% of its homicide victims. 

Youth violence is fueled by a complex combination of individual, community, and societal factors. These factors include lack of economic opportunities and cycles of unemployment and poverty; chronic disinvestment; racial and economic marginalisation and segregation; gang affiliation and hostile peer groups; hyper-policing and lack of trust in government institutions; thrill-seeking and lack of recreational activities; and illicit trade of drugs and firearms, amongst many others. There is also growing acknowledgement of the gendered undercurrents of Chicago’s violence. 

Youth SOAR Sport and Arts for Resilience was a 12-month programme implemented by Generations For Peace in Greater Grand Crossing, Chicago and Illinois, USA. The programme addressed violence among youth of different age groups, racial backgrounds, and neighbourhoods by providing youth with opportunities to interact in new ways, enabling them to gain new perspectives of one another and increase their sense of belonging.  

Data-verification points

The Target Group showed an average of 51% decrease in the level of negative influence of peer group on youth. Measured by asking the TG, “what would they do if a friend asked you to do something you know is wrong, but they really need the help.”

The Target Group showed an average of 55% decrease in the level of negative influence of outside the usual contact group on youth. Measured by asking the TG, “what would you do if someone from a peer group outside your usual contact group asked you to do something you know is wrong but might benefit you in some way.”

The Beneficiary Community showed a 67% decrease in the level of disciplinary incidents or remedial actions at school among youth of the community. This was measured by asking BC, how often they have been through a disciplinary incident or corrective action in the past six months.

The Beneficiary Community showed a 31% increase in perceptions of personal safety in the community. This was measured based on the BC members rating how safe they feel while walking along the street and how often they think youth violence has occurred in the community over the past six months.

Testimonials

GFP Delegate

GFP provided me with an exceptional week of training that was not only very informative but also a lot of fun. The training gave me insight into implementing meaningful practices and programmes successfully.

Key Stakeholder

The youth loved the engagement levels of Youth SOAR and spoke very highly of the Delegates. Since the Delegates were also young, they built meaningful relationships and enjoyed their time together throughout the Programme.

GFP Delegate

Sport and Arts For Peace activities allow me to express my thoughts and emotions in a safe space. Volunteering with Generations For Peace has helped me share my current reality and build hopes and dreams for myself and my community.