‘My voice was heard at the UN’: Chicago teenagers travel to Switzerland to speak at conference on racism and violence

CHICAGO (SCS) — They are taking Chicago’s gun violence crisis to the world stage.

it’s a heavy burden for anyone to bear, but as CBS 2’s Steven Graves explains, some high schoolers have risen to the challenge. Only on the 2, they talk about the struggle for change, thousands of miles from home.

From Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood to Geneva, Switzerland. It’s a long trip, but a 16-year-old Arseny Acosta found it necessary.

“I saw the violence. I saw the discrimination in Englewood. Change is all we want.”

A motivation that brought her to the United Nations, testifying before leaders around the world in an effort to inform about lived experiences – to end gun violence.

“Englewood doesn’t have food and housing security like a white neighborhood in Wicker Park,” she said. “Just speaking up, honestly, was something really important to me. I felt like my voice was heard at the UN. All those people were listening to you.”

His voice can now be heard after an effort from Bogan High School.

The students were challenged to create a report to submit to the UN for its International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination or “CERD”.

The result was this: passionate insights poured into artwork, essays, and even a rap song. It was selected, with additional views from groups Women’s All Point Bulletin and GoodKids MadCity’s solution to fighting gun violence.

“The Peace Book will fund programs that will enable trauma survivors to heal.”

It’s 21-year-old Damayanti Wallace of GoodKids MadCity trying to drum up support for the “peace book ordinance.” It is a youth-led initiative, with peace commissions made up of violence interrupters and peacekeepers.

An alternative to policing and preventing violent crime that would take about 2% of the Chicago Police Department’s budget.

“They see it as something that takes it, when really we’re giving back to our communities and investing in young people, in the young people who are going to come after them,” Wallace said. said.

She claims ‘they’, some people at City Hall and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who have criticized the defunding of the police, all ignored their pleas, which makes this speaking time special, but also sad that they felt they had to come to Switzerland.

“It felt like people were listening. Because we love Chicago. We wouldn’t have created an entire peace book trying to save people if we didn’t love it,” Wallace said.

A life-changing experience that has older mentors.

“The United Nations in Switzerland just showed us a different view of life. What life is meant to be,” said GoodKids MadCity mentor Camiella Williams.

An international journey to effect change at home.


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