A Youth-led Breakthrough Strategy For Healing-Centered Communities

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Through the leadership of young people of color, Communities United and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago are embarking on a partnership to invest in a next generation of Black and Brown youth in Chicago to create and sustain healing-centered communities. In Chicago and across the country, our Black and Brown communities have been impacted by systemic racism that has resulted in widespread disparities and generational trauma. We have lost loved ones to violence, and have been separated from our families-yet we continue to uplift each other and organize for change. 


Systems such as the mental health system largely focus on the individual as opposed to community, and treatment instead of healing, restoration, and structural change. There is an urgent need to transform how we view mental health and invest in young people to unlock our potential to fulfill our vision for communities that are just and healing-centered. We have a breakthrough opportunity to radically reimagine our mental health and broader health system from one that provides treatment, to one that supports a next generation of young people to advance racial justice and equity in our communities…and find healing in the process. Our partnership will support young leadership in advancing “Healing through Justice,” a youth-led movement for healing.


  • Youth leaders released findings of a 2-year Participatory Action Research focused on the challenges and solutions to address mental health and wellness needs among young men of color. Through a partnership with Lurie Children’s Hospital, youth leaders gained commitment from the hospital's leadership to take action on the recommendations to engage young people of color as leaders and agents of change to shape mental health practice and policy transformation.

  • Through Girls Empowering & Motivating Sisters (GEMS), a group out of our Survivors Alliance for Healing & Justice, cis and trans girls and young women of color have led a year-long story collection project focusing on mental health and wellness and its intersection with race, trauma, and healing.  Building off of GEMS’ project, girls and young women of color are partnering with institutions to support community-led efforts and healing approaches led by girls of color.



For more information or to get involved, please contact Maria Degillo at Maria@voyceproject.org or at 773-583-1387