Youth SOAR

2019-2020: Our first US program to reduce the levels of youth violence in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood in Chicago


From 2019-2020, we implemented the “Youth Sport or Arts for Resilience” (Youth SOAR) program in Chicago, IL in partnership with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA and the Gary Comer Youth Center (GCYC) on the Comer Education Campus.

The goal of the program was to reduce the levels of youth violence in Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood in Chicago.

Its objective was to strengthen the resilience of 100+ youth in high-risk situations, and their peers, to violence by increasing their capacity to respond non-violently to the demands and challenges of everyday life and increasing their sense of belonging to a positive peer group.

This program was our first pilot of the Generations For Peace global model in the US context.

Key Actions
  • 40-hour Sport and Arts For Peace training for 8 volunteers (GCYC staff)

  • 25 Sport and Arts For Peace sessions with 92 youth (37.5 hours total)

  • One half-day youth-led community engagement event for 40 additional youth

  • 16% increase in the level of connection to family/caregivers and networks among youth

  • 33% increase in the level of ability to respond to conflict in a non-violent manner among youth

  • 55% decrease in the level of negative influence of outside the usual contact group on youth

  • 51% decrease in the level of negative influence of peer group on youth

  • 24% increase in the levels of individuals’ own coping mechanisms among youth

  • 27% increase in the levels of acceptance among peers

  • 67% decrease in the level of disciplinary incidents or remedial actions at school among youth of the community

  • “I think one of the main obstacles we have to peace in Chicago is the wide-spread violence. We are concerned because it is important to us in terms of youth welfare; we understand that if young people are developed in a certain way where the outcomes are positive and can benefit the society as a whole, it will be long lasting.” - Ayoka Noelle Mota Samuels, former GCYC Center Director

  • “Sport and Arts For Peace activities give me the opportunity to express my thoughts and emotions through safe platforms. My volunteering with Generations For Peace allows me to deeply discuss my current reality as well as hopes and dreams for the communities I serve.” – Rickey, Facilitator, Youth SOAR

  • I would like to bring the program back. We were able to come together to talk about our problems that we were going through with the delegates. It’s not easy to open up and trust everyone you talk to.” -Tierra, Youth Participant, Youth SOAR

  • I had fun being able to express myself because sometimes at school it’s a little more constricted and I’m contained but in the program I was free to express anything.” - Winston, Youth Participant, Youth SOAR

  • A closer bond was built amongst my classmates. I didn’t know I would get to know my colleagues better than I did. I thought that I already knew them but GFP helped me know them in a deeper, better way.” - Zion, Youth Participant, Youth SOAR

  • “Having a program like this helps with mental health, stress, regression. Youth do not see the bigger picture of how it helps them in the long run. Mental health is so important and plays a huge role in our community, and that’s the change that I witnessed in the community.” – Will, Community Member, Youth SOAR