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30 ways you can help stop youth violence

A calendar of opportunities, from volunteering to donating.

Photograph: Aaron Wickenden
The Interrupters

$ Donate
i Inform yourself
V volunteer

FEBRUARY 2013

14 Chicago aims to halve the number of violent incidents in the city by 2020. Familiarize yourself with the city’s Youth Violence Prevention Plan, presented in Washington last April by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. cityofchicago.org. i

15 Tune in to This American Life on WBEZ tonight and Feb 22 to hear writer Alex Kotlowitz talk about spending four months with students and staff at Englewood’s W.R. Harper High School the year after 27 students had been shot. 7pm. wbez.org.i

16 E-mail Illinois Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence site to urge them to require background checks on all gun sales, including those at gun shows. bradynetwork.org. V

17 Volunteer as an after-school mentor or summer program coordinator with Enlace Chicago, which runs programs that focus on safety, grief support, art, advocacy, mentorship and violence interruption. 773-542-9233. V

18 You don’t have to live in Austin—the neighborhood with the highest number of violent crimes in the city—to become a member of Austin Coming Together, a group that aims to build networks among businesses, religious and nonprofit organizations, and residents. 773-417-8612. V

19 Registration for the Chicago Marathon begins at noon today. Visit chicagomarathon.com to sign up as a charity runner for Chicago Run, which coordinates running programs for 4,500 students, many of whom live in areas where safety issues make it hard to run recreationally.V

20 Donate to the Broken Winggz Foundation, a Chicago organization that provides support to paralyzed gunshot victims. Find a PayPal donation link at brokenwinggz.com. $

21 Watch training videos from Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere, an initiative from the Centers for Disease Control, to better understand some risk factors for youth violence, including social rejection by peers. The videos also help identify ways your community can help. vetoviolence.org.i

22 Pledge to spread the word about the National Violent Death Reporting System, which aims to generate data on crime patterns to help with violence-prevention strategies. Illinois has approved the system but lacks the funding to run it.preventviolence.net. V

23 Stream the 2011 documentary The Interrupters for free. pbs.org.i

24Corey Brooks, the South Side pastor who camped out in a tent on a motel roof for 94 days last year to raise money to knock down the motel, still needs more than $13 million to build a community center for at-risk youth in its place. Through June 21, buy a $65 raffle ticket that could win you a 2013 Ford Fusion or a $2,500 shopping spree. $

25 Want to contact a state legislator or local editor about gun violence but not sure how to start? The Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has a toolkit with tips, sample letters and student petitions to help kids get involved.i

26 Learn more about the Chicago Police Department’s Expanded Anti-Violence Initiative at a meeting for the 7th District, which encompasses Englewood. 11am–1pm. 7th District Community Room, 1438 W 63rd St (312-747-6722). i

27 The Crime Lab at the University of Chicago’s “Gun Violence Among School-Age Youth in Chicago” report analyzes youth violence and discusses what can be done about it. Read it at crimelab.uchicago.edu.i

28 Drop into an all-ages meeting led by teens to hear their thoughts about reducing violence in their neighborhoods. 6:30pm. Multicultural Academy of Scholarship’s Little Village Lawndale High School campus, 3120 S Kostner Ave (nowisthetimechicago.org).i

MARCH 2013

1Yollocalli Arts Reach, an initiative of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, offers classes for teens and kids on topics like fashion blogging in an effort to give youth a creative outlet. Sign up to promote events, fund-raise or teach. 312-455-9652, ext 210.V

2 Catch the first public performance of How Long Will I Cry?, a new Steppenwolf show that tells the true stories of Chicago youth who have been directly affected by gun violence. 11am.i

3 Volunteer at the Little Black Pearl Art & Design Center in North Kenwood, a nonprofit that provides classes and camps in painting, dance, spoken word and more to kids and teens in Kenwood/Oakland, Woodlawn and Bronzeville. Contact Chinyera Moody at 773-285-1211, ext 307 or cmoody@blackpearl.org.V

4 Donate to the True Star Foundation, a nonprofit organization that equips teens with skills like graphic design, photography, marketing and journalism that they can use in their aspiring careers. 312-588-0100. $

5 The Resident Association of Greater Englewood, or R.A.G.E., invites all Chicagoans to become members and help build up the community through work groups that focus on economic and youth development, as well as on civic engagement. The next meeting is March 19. 866-845-1032. V

6 Train yourself on how to approach kids who have been exposed to violence with a series of videos from Chicago Safe Start.i

7 Donate to the Illinois State Crime Commission/Police Athletic League of Illinois, a nonprofit that focuses on reducing juvenile delinquency by giving youth alternatives, as with a boxing initiative that has the participation of Rasheda Ali-Walsh, the daughter of Muhammad Ali. $

8 Teach kids yoga. Give girls a spa day. Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network, or UCAN, headed by Thomas Vanden Berk, who lost his 15-year-old son to gun violence, helps youth and their families, especially kids who have experienced trauma. Contact Ellen Acevedo at 312-738-5911 or acevedoe@ucanchicago.org.V

9 Cheer on some at-risk teens at the team finals for “Louder than a Bomb,” the annual spoken-word poetry competition showcasing the life experiences of hundreds of students from all over Chicago. 6–9pm. Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W Randolph St (wbez.org). V

10 Take students from Kohn Elementary to weekly meetings that address topics like conflict resolution as a volunteer with Greater Roseland Community Committee’s Youth Voices Against Violence, founded by Gwen Baxter after she lost her son to gun violence. Contact Baxter at 773-629-8804.V

11 Request educational materials, like a poster outlining 95 ways to help a child exposed to violence, from the Chicago Department of Public Health’s Office of Violence Prevention.i

12 Get involved with After School Matters, a partner with CPS and the legacy of Maggie Daley, which offers after-school programs in such areas as Web development, dance, creative writing, tennis, biology and computer animationV

13 Buy a cupcake at Blue Sky Bakery, which employs at-risk and homeless youth to teach them job skills and the culinary arts. 3720 N Lincoln Ave (773-880-9910).$

14 As part of Chicago’s Alternative Policing Strategy, each police district’s subcommittee arranges for volunteers to show up at important court dates. A filled courtroom demonstrates people care about stopping crime and violence. 312-744-4000. V

15 Get involved with the Youth Violence Prevention Week Campaign through local SAVE chapters. The campaign (March 18–22) runs workshops and discussions on promoting respect and tolerance, resolving conflicts and more.V

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