A Letter from Youth Development Coordinator, Mads Campbell
The Youth Development Center's Program strives to serve as an open doorway for Chicago's young people to find employment opportunities, mental health support, life skills, and artistic programs which support them in becoming more empowered and independent individuals.
The Youth Development Center's authentic power lies within intentionally establishing culturally responsive environments that prioritize celebration and continuous affirmation of the strength and resiliency it takes to survive young adulthood while simultaneously battling the traumas of experiencing
Advocacy and restorative justice work for young people experiencing homelessness is more than just ensuring that they have a meal or a clean bed. For our young people who are no strangers to disappointment, resentment, and isolation, the Youth Development Center cultivates a trauma-informed, community-driven environment to enable young people to feel heard, validated, secure, and accountable to their futures.
Many of our youth live with the ongoing effects of past and present overwhelming stress. We know that our young people who have not received the support they need to recover are often left struggling with their health and well-being. Bridging positive connections between advocacy, restoration, and resources would not be easily possible without the youth leaders of the space that establish community with one another. The youth present during the past few weeks' group conversations surrounding mental and emotional health have examined relationships, triggers, emotional reactivity, and feeling powerless. With the delicate nature of these discussions, I have seen our young people rise in advocacy and comfort each other. As a Coordinator, witnessing the youth's curiosity, playfulness, and sense of community blossom during daily group discussions and activities has been rewarding, knowing they are building trust and rapport with each other in the YDC. Our young people's input informs our space's efforts and program implementation, and I couldn't be more enthusiastic for the future of the Youth Development Center's programs. Upcoming events that our young people are excited about planning this summer are barbecue cook-offs, playing sports in the courtyard, karaoke nights, and Open Mic sessions!