YAP Chicago Hosts Back to School Stop the Violence Picnic

    YAP's Chicago Washington Heights Violence Interruption team hosted a Community Back-to-School Stop the Violence Picnic.

    Chicago – Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. Chicago Washington Heights Violence Interruption team hosted a Community BacktoSchool Stop the Violence Picnic on August 13.

    All photos by Ken Lewis Photography.

    “It was a great event that brought the community – along with YAP program participants and our staff -together to fellowship, have fun, and provide resources to those who needed them,” said YAP Chicago Violence Interruption Program Director Ken Lewis. “YAP is in the neighborhood connecting youth and their families to wraparound services to help interrupt cycles of violence.”

    The picnic, in its 25th year, was held at Brainerd Park and nearly 1,000 residents were in attendance.

    The YAP team offered families school supplies as well as connections to economic, educational, and emotional tools – tangible community resources that provide alternatives to violence. The event also included recreational activities, face painting, music, and free food.

    Funded with a grant from the Chicago Department of Public Health Office of Violence Prevention, the YAP Washington Heights Violence Interruption program uses street outreach to serve individuals at the highest risk for becoming engaged in violence – including those associated with gangs, returning from prison or who have lost a loved one and might be at risk for retaliation – and their families.

    YAP is a 48-year-old national nonprofit that has been in Chicago for 16 years as a partner to youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, public safety, schools, and other systems providing community-based services as an alternative to youth incarceration and residential placements and to curb neighborhood violence.

    YAP’s decades of service include working with many young people whose histories include serious offenses, multiple arrests, and lengthy out-of-home placements. John Jay College of Criminal Justice research found 86% of YAP’s youth justice participants remain arrest free, and six – 12 months after completing the program, nearly 90% of the youth still lived in their communities with less than 5% of participants in secure placement.

    For more information on YAP, visit yapinc.org or follow us on Twitter at @YAPInc.