Chicago Youth Use Art To Spread Mental Health Awareness
Start writing a post

Chicago Youth Use Art To Spread Mental Health Awareness

Youth in Chicago's YMCA "606 Art" program hosted an art exhibit for May's Mental Health Awareness Month.

Chicago Youth Use Art To Spread Mental Health Awareness
Hannah Mitchell

"606 Art" is a new program that takes at-risk youth and encourages them to use art for self-expression. These teens were given the opportunity to hold an art show in Chicago's Humboldt Park to showcase art pieces in honor of May's Mental Health Awareness month. The name, "606 Art" stems from the zip code designator for the city of Chicago. The zip codes begin with 606 and it is a common nickname for things in the city, including a famous trail that runs through the Humboldt Park region. The name takes the approach that the "city is our canvas" and the program was founded by a city muralist.

John Vergara is a celebrated muralist that runs 606 Art through the YMCA. He mentors teens, all of whom had no experience with painting, and gives them a new outlet to express themselves. These teens use art to communicate frustrations with racism, poverty, sexuality, trauma, and gangs in their own homes and communities. The program gives the youth something to be proud of, a brand new set of skills, and a circle that they can collaborate with and trust. It also allows the teens to dedicate time to art and keeps them out of the streets.

An art piece that incorporates the youth's frustration with the communities in Chicago, including violence, racism, and poverty.Hannah Mitchell

A flyer tells both the importance of mental health and the participants in the 606 Art show.Hannah Mitchell

Breary Jackson stands next to a mannequin that is painted to represent police brutality in her community. The mannequin, along with the smaller pieces displayed behind it, embodies how the violence perpetuates fear and trauma for the youth.

Breary Jackson stands proudly next to a painted mannequin that represents police violence towards community members. Hannah Mitchell

Jackson's trilogy of paintings express her way of coping with trauma.Hannah Mitchell

The teens also collaborate with each other to create art. A beautifully painted mannequin doubles as an interactive art piece that invites exhibit visitors to write how they cope with mental health. Collaborating also gives the youth a foundation to working with others and building trust.

A mannequin invites guests to write on it how they cope with mental health issues.Hannah Mitchell

A young man uses a sharpie to write on it how he copes with mental health issues.Hannah Mitchell

Being involved with 606 Art has improved the confidence and social skills of the youth involved in the program. Jelani Davis is able to confidently speak to gallery visitors about his art. Talking to strangers and people outside of his community is something that may have been hard for Davis to do in the past. Davis has won an award through the YMCA for significant improvements to his behavior. This is an award only given once per cohort, through various YMCA programs.

The program has built confidence in many of the youth participants in the art program and it is showcased through their ability to proudly discuss their art.Hannah Mitchell

Before Vergara started the 606 Art program through the YMCA, he was working with youth to paint murals in the city and working as an outreach worker in Humboldt Park and Logan Square. He has painted or restored about 50 murals in Chicago and is the creator of the 79th Municipal flag of Puerto Rico, also known as the "Paseo Boricua" flag. Davis and a few other youth, were able to work with Vergara on murals in the Humboldt Park region.

Vergara explains to guests the significance of a mannequin. This mannequin represents youth's struggles in sexuality.Hannah Mitchell

A mannequin represents the collaboration of youth and their struggles with sexuality.Hannah Mitchell

A photo captures the efforts the youth take before starting a mural. They must whitewash a wall with paint.Hannah Mitchell

A painting shows a young man praying. This is one of the paintings purchased at the exhibit.Hannah Mitchell

A lineup of painting present the pride and struggles of being a young African American in Chicago.Hannah Mitchell

A photograph shows graffiti art on a brick wall.Hannah Mitchell

Pencils are used to create life-like drawings at the 606 Art exhibit.Hannah Mitchell

606 Art encourages collaboration and passion among youth that may not experience it otherwise and also appears to encourage a healthy outlet for expressing frustration in their communities and their own mental health. The YMCA anticipates continuing the program through its "Youth Safety and Violence Prevention" program and will update the public when the next exhibit is planned.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Unlocking Lake People's Secrets: 15 Must-Knows!

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.

Group of joyful friends sitting in a boat
Haley Harvey

The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people.

Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Top 10 Reasons My School Rocks!

Why I Chose a Small School Over a Big University.

man in black long sleeve shirt and black pants walking on white concrete pathway

I was asked so many times why I wanted to go to a small school when a big university is so much better. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure a big university is great but I absolutely love going to a small school. I know that I miss out on big sporting events and having people actually know where it is. I can't even count how many times I've been asked where it is and I know they won't know so I just say "somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin." But, I get to know most people at my school and I know my professors very well. Not to mention, being able to walk to the other side of campus in 5 minutes at a casual walking pace. I am so happy I made the decision to go to school where I did. I love my school and these are just a few reasons why.

Keep Reading...Show less
Lots of people sat on the cinema wearing 3D glasses

Ever wonder what your friend meant when they started babbling about you taking their stapler? Or how whenever you ask your friend for a favor they respond with "As You Wish?" Are you looking for new and creative ways to insult your friends?

Well, look no further. Here is a list of 70 of the most quotable movies of all time. Here you will find answers to your questions along with a multitude of other things such as; new insults for your friends, interesting characters, fantastic story lines, and of course quotes to log into your mind for future use.

Keep Reading...Show less
New Year Resolutions

It's 2024! You drank champagne, you wore funny glasses, and you watched the ball drop as you sang the night away with your best friends and family. What comes next you may ask? Sadly you will have to return to the real world full of work and school and paying bills. "Ah! But I have my New Year's Resolutions!"- you may say. But most of them are 100% complete cliches that you won't hold on to. Here is a list of those things you hear all around the world.

Keep Reading...Show less

The Ultimate Birthday: Unveiling the Perfect Day to Celebrate!

Let's be real, the day your birthday falls on could really make or break it.

​different color birthday candles on a cake
Blacksburg Children's Museum

You heard it here first: birthdays in college are some of the best days of your four years. For one day annually, you get to forget about your identity as a stressed, broke, and overworked student, and take the time to celebrate. You can throw your responsibilities for a day, use your one skip in that class you hate, receive kind cards and gifts from loved ones and just enjoy yourself.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments