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'Healing Arts Kits' Packing Party

Each year, all too many Chicago youths and their families are struck with traumatic incidents stemming from exposure to gun violence, domestic abuse, sexual assault, substance abuse, and other forms of violence and loss; 2016 was the city's most violent year in nearly two decades with 762 murders, 3,550 shooting incidents, and 4,331 shooting victims.

Urban Gateways often engages the very same youth and families who have been exposed to trauma and has witnessed firsthand the importance of combating this trauma. Without intervention, the life expectancy of youth trauma victims decreases by 20 years.

The city of Chicago is in desperate need of healing and of positive, impactful experiences. Arts intervention can provide a tool for recovery and mitigate the impact of trauma on our city's youth.

This is why Urban Gateways has partnered with Artists 4 Israel and Chicago Survivors to pilot the distribution of A4I's Healing Arts Kits throughout the city.


Developed by Artists 4 Israel as a first response tool to bombing victims in Israel, the Healing Arts Kits are emergency psychological first aid kits, designed to be administered immediately after an incident of trauma.

The purpose of the Kits is to slow or prevent the onset of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by providing the young person with activities that interrupt the trauma, stimulate self-soothing, inspire creative thinking, and otherwise utilize the elements of art therapy.

The Kits were developed by children's psychology experts, psychiatrists, emergency medical technicians, first responders, art therapists, artists, teachers, and parents, stemming from the latest research in health and art therapy practices.

"This collaboration is a necessary response to aid our city's young victims through the healing power of the arts," says Urban Gateways Executive Director Eric Delli Bovi. "We hope that this project will result in a lasting, positive impact in our city by providing creative relief for children and families faced with unimaginable effects as survivors of homicide and trauma."

In its initial pilot, 200 Healing Arts Kits will be deployed for use by Chicago Survivors. Chicago Survivors provides citywide crisis intervention, supportive counseling, comprehensive resources, referral services, and case management to families following homicide in Chicago through trained Crisis Responders and Family Support Specialists; their services are free and open to all families who have lost a loved one to violence.

Healing Arts Kits will serve as a tool for Chicago Survivors to reach youth in the aftermath of a shooting, death, or incidence of violence. The 200 pilot Kits will be available for distribution in February after the Packing Party, with further distributions rolling out as needed to reach Chicago's young people.

"Chicago Survivors is grateful for this important creative tool," says Chicago Survivors Executive Director Susan Johnson. "Healing from personal exposure to violence is hard work, and the Healing Arts Kits bring respite and quiet hope in the midst of chaos and tragedy."

The Healing Arts Kits Packing Party on February 12th will mark the launch of this pilot phase, with staff from Urban Gateways, Chicago Survivors, and Artists 4 Israel, as well as young people who participate in programming at Street-Level Youth Media, present to compile the Healing Arts Kits and prepare them for citywide use by Chicago Survivors.

Our hope is to leverage the power of the arts to help alleviate the impact of trauma on our city's youth and provide healing for young people affected by violence. Please plan to attend the February 12 Packing Party to learn more about this critical initiative. Contact Urban Gateways Director of Communications Abby Prescott, 312-445-2755 /, with questions or to RSVP.

When: Monday, February 12, 5 p.m. -7 p.m.

Where: Street-Level Youth Media, 1637 North Ashland Avenue.


Comments welcome.


Posted on January 25, 2018

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