NEW RESEARCH FINDINGS LEAD TO the ‘Street Youth Rise Up’ Campaign: To change the way Chicago sees and treats its homeless, home-free and street based youth who do what they have to do to survive.

Because Young Women’s Empowerment Project’s [YWEP] new research- called The Bad Encounter Line [BEL]– shows that girls and transgender girls and all street based young people in Chicago are being denied help from systems set up to serve our needs: We are coming together on Friday, Sept 30th in the Lakeview (Boystown Area) at 3:30PM on the corner of Belmont and Broadway to march as a peaceful action. This demonstration is to alert others that we are tired of being criminalized for our survival in this city. The march will lead into a Speak out at Alternatives Inc. where we will have many youth come to share their talents and voices. We demand accountability for the criminalization of our survival, and require the basic necessities that helping systems are not providing our community.

New Research: BAD ENCOUNTER LINE FINDINGS: The BEL is a way to report bad experiences street based youth have had with institutions and tracks the neighborhood, gender and time of day so YWEP can learn more about how we are being denied help. Since 2009, 146 Bad Encounters have been filed over the computer, via phone, text and through filling out a paper form. Of these 146 encounters, 20% (the largest percentage) was in the Lakeview area with Police & Health Care as the most likely institutions found to deny help or cause violence to youth involved in the sex trade and street economy.

A full report will be released during the march and speak out and shows details information and graphs.

WHO WE ARE: YWEP HISTORY: The Young Women’s Empowerment Project (YWEP) is a member based social justice organizing project that is led by and for young people of color who have current or former experience in the sex trade street economies. Our mission is to offer safe, respectful, free-of-judgment spaces for girls and young women in the sex trade to recognize their goals, dreams and desires. YWEP is Chicago based project that was founded in 2002 by a radical feminist and harm reduction based collective of women and girls involved in the sex trade and our allies. We were created by women and girls who believe that any girl can be empowered and that all girls are priceless, creative, and smart and can be leaders in their communities.

WHY WE ARE DOING THIS: HISTORY, RESEARCH & HISTORY ABOUT THE BAD ENCOUNTER LINE: In 2009, YWEP completed a youth led research study on ways girls and transgender girls in the sex trade & street economy are resistant and resilient to violence. In this research we looked at two categories of violence, individual and institutional. Although both categories had surprising results, we were most surprised at the amount of girls and transgender girls facing violence from institutions- like police, hospitals, social services and even Department Children and Family Service.

We wanted to tackle this problem from a community organizing approach from this idea the Bad Encounter Line (BEL) was born. The BEL is a way to report bad experiences you have had with institutions and tracks the neighborhood, gender and time of day so YWEP can learn more about how we are being harmed.

We also started a task force called “Street Youth in Motion” who organized this march and wrote a Street Youth Bill of Rights (attached) that we want all non-profits to sign to make them accountable to us and can’t get away with denying us help!

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Taking Back Our City, and So Much More…..

Over the past year, we’ve been busy collecting Bad Encounters from all across the city. Recording institutional violence, and giving youth an opportunity to speak out, against these helping systems that don’t seem to be reaching our community. To date we have collected 132 plus Bad Encounters, we are still trying to collect more, but we are at that point in our data where we are culling and coding in hopes of finding a target, for our Street Youth in Motion Taskforce. Pushing our Street Youth Rise Up Campaign’s goal to change the way Chicago sees and treats its Homeless, Homefree, and Street-based youth for doing what they have to do to survive.

Yes it is that time, our Taskforce is moving forward!!! Our next meeting September 16th at the BYC will be the last opportunity for us to both come together before we march through our streets, and make some noise for the whole city to hear. We are coming together to publicly release our Street Youth Bill of Rights, and to get our campaign going and we’re getting everybody involved. We ask that if you wish to be a part of this planning process, that you be 25 years of age and younger, or bring a youth with you. Food and bus fare will be provided. Our time now, we have a location and a date and all we need is you and the streets!!!!! That’s RIGHT people!!!  It’s time for Chicago’s Street Youth to RISE Up!!!!!  September 30th is the date and Alternative’s Inc. is the place we will be holding our speak out, located on 4730 North Sheridan Road Chicago, IL. We are going to let the whole city know we are ready for some accountability, and ready to receive the rights to our basic survival needs!!!!!. We are so lucky to have such a great host for our speak out, and a great way for us to come together, after we take back our streets and MARCH for our rights!!!!! Stay tuned more details to come soon, Meeting place for the march will be posted shortly. It’s time for us to make our city listen to us, about our right to survive!!!! This will definitely be one for the books. Please come out and support we look forward to seeing you all there.