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South Chicago, East Side

South Chicago Community Leaders, Social Workers Headline Upcoming Conference On Healing From Trauma

The free five-day symposium on community healing and activism starts next Monday and features state Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th) as keynote speaker.

Attendees pose for a picture at last year's trauma-informed symposium.
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SOUTH CHICAGO — Residents can learn how to process their emotional pain, with an eye on expanding their capacity for activism, at the South Chicago Neighborhood Network’s trauma-informed symposium next week.

The five-day event runs Oct. 5–9, with sessions held every day from 10 a.m.–noon. You can register for each day of the conference for free through Eventbrite.

Workshop topics for each of the five days are:

  • Monday, Oct. 5: A history of systemic racism, led by Theresa Valach, clinical director of the child trauma center at La Rabida Children’s Hospital. The day will kick off with comments from keynote speaker and state Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th).
  • Tuesday, Oct. 6: Mental health and emotional well-being, led by Linda Gonzalez of the Southeast Response Collective.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 7: The impact of social media on community violence, led by Chicago Police officer Danielle Flores.
  • Thursday, Oct. 8: Taking action for social justice, led by Henry Cevantes, founder of The Peace Exchange violence prevention initiative.
  • Friday, Oct. 9: A community panel on next steps and staying connected, facilitated by Vanessa Schwartz, Southeast Center Director for Metropolitan Family Services, and Katie Larson.

The week’s workshops will encourage attendees to explore “what can we do as a community to make those bold policy changes” necessary to address social injustices faced by Black and Latino communities, said Tiarra Owens, the South Chicago Neighborhood Network’s program coordinator.

The third-annual symposium is the network’s first in a virtual format.

“Normally it’s an all-day event, but because we’re all Zoomed out, we stretched it out for a week-long series,” Owens said.

Performances from Naomi the Artist and Jahari the Hippie will end the symposium Friday afternoon, to “close on a note that gives people hope and joy because trauma is a very heavy subject,” Owens said.

The South Chicago Neighborhood Network, created by the United Way of Metro Chicago and managed by Claretian Associates, is one of 10 similar networks in Chicagoland working to promote neighborhood unity through personal relationships and mental health education.

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