These Kids Walk Some Scary Streets Every Day. A Former Gang Member Gives Them A Place To Feel Safe.

These kids in Chicago are basically living in a war zone and hear gunfire outside of their bedrooms as they fall asleep. In America, we can do better.

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Teacher: Do you guys remember where we left off last week? Were working on our what?

Student: Backgrounds.

Teacher: Backgrounds right? Its about using your brush crisscrosses [??]. At Amnesty [??] Ceasefire they were actually focusing after school about violence and how they could help the community and so fourth.

Student: I use a pencil to sketch it out and shade it.

Teacher: And were like hey what do you think about the idea of using art to express themselves about violence. When I was in prison, painting was my form of dealing with my issues and my problems. [I was] really discovering myself. This one right here, I really like this one. It's... My past was building a name off violence and gang banging. Now I'm building a name off my artwork.

The idea behind this is that you got an angel and he finds himself in Hell, or whatever you wanna call it. This one I really like because its symbolic something that I really feel. Whats the one thing in a neighborhood that you wish people could focus on more to help out?

Student: Spray painting

Teacher: Spray painting? What about you?

Student: The shootings

Teacher: The shootings?

Student: Because my mom is scared that there's going to be a shooting while I'm outside.

Student: I would want them to help with the shooting because it really bothers me.

Student: There was this one time when our neighbors got into a fight and I don't know what else happened, but someone started shooting. [crying] It really [??].

Teacher: And what you're doing right here, being part of this program. That's a great thing, because it shows you care and want to do something about it.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

The video is from the short film " The Interrupters," which you can watch on Netflix, PBS, or iTunes. There are dozens and dozens of ways to participate with art therapy programs. Find one where you live and volunteer, donate, or participate! And you can Like the Illinois Art Therapy Association on Facebook. A special shoutout goes to Cara Levitt, who turned me onto art therapy in her Draw It Out art therapy studio.

May 06, 2014

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