The Adler School of Professional Psychology, through its Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice (IPSSJ) and Department of Art Therapy, has partnered with Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation to establish the Southside Youth Peace and Leadership Council, a violence prevention program for young men ages 14 to 18 in Chicago’s Englewood and Back of the Yards communities.
The School’s Art Therapy faculty and students join IPSSJ and Precious Blood staff to work weekly with court-involved young men ages 14 to 18 referred to the council to address relationship-building, leadership, and social and emotional skills. Over the course of the program, which began June 28, they take part in community-oriented art, field trips throughout Chicago, and restorative justice activities such as peace circles, which focus on resolving conflict through establishing trust and personal responsibility.
The program is an expansion of the School’s violence prevention collaborations in Englewood since 2008—which have engaged more than 130 at-risk young men in civic involvement, video-making, city arts exploration, critical discussions about alternatives to violence, connection to community partners, job opportunities, mentoring, and positive self-expression through the arts.
Through the Southside Youth Peace and Leadership Council, Adler School Art Therapy faculty and students along with leadership from the School’s IPSSJ are:
- Collaborating with Precious Blood Ministry leadership and staff to provide programs, community presentations, field trips, mentoring and support for the at-risk young men, many of whom are court-involved, and all experiencing frequent loss and community violence.
- Engaging them in therapeutic art-making, dialogue and presentations challenging their ideas about violence and help them move toward becoming community leaders.
- Training young men who are already community leaders through Precious Blood Ministry on how to enhance their communications skills, lead restorative justice practices such as peace circles that reduce youth conflict, and understand the impact of adverse childhood experiences, or ACES, on other youth with whom they work. ACES are experiences such as exposure to violence as well as common childhood stressors that can dramatically change health outcomes and life expectancies later in life. IPSSJ has developed and provides training for organizations and community groups on how to provide trauma-informed services based on ACES research—among the few Midwest organizations qualified to do so.
In addition to its collaboration with the Adler School in organizing and leading the program and ongoing activities, Precious Blood Ministry identifies and works with the youth and community participants to take part in activities and training. It also provides the program with expanded facilities for use through its art space, media lab, gym, community garden, outdoor mural space, and indoor and outdoor for peace circles and other restorative justice and program activities.
Leading the program are Father Dave Kelly, CPPS, Director of Precious Blood Ministry; Lariza Fenner, ATR, MAT, Adler School Core Faculty, M.A. in Counseling: Art Therapy Program; and Elena Quintana, Ph.D., Executive Director, and Nicole Huser, Program Coordinator, both of the Adler School Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice.
“Precious Blood Ministry is known for applying innovative and highly effective approaches to working with at-risk youth and advancing positive change for the community, which aligns exactly with our work at the Adler School,” said Quintana, a community/clinical psychologist.
“Specifically, our Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice focuses significant research, practice and training on evidence-based approaches to violence prevention and human justice—and we are delighted to partner with Precious Blood as one of the Chicago area’s leaders in advancing restorative justice practice to reduce the violence and further trauma to individuals and communities.”
Fenner, an art therapist experienced in leading and working with youth violence prevention efforts, said: “Our partnership with Precious Blood Ministry is enabling deep dialogue about violence prevention among those who need it the most—the youth and future leaders of our communities. It’s exciting to me that we are working together through this program to empower youth to help themselves, and create change in the community.”
About the Adler School
The Adler School of Professional Psychology has provided quality education through a scholar/practitioner model for 60 years. The School’s mission is to train socially responsible graduates who continue the visionary work of Alfred Adler throughout the world. The Adler School offers graduate-level programs enrolling more than 1,000 students at its campuses in Chicago and Vancouver, British Columbia, and through Adler Online.
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