The Youth Violence Prevention Initiative* is a program that is designed to help promote positive behaviors amongst students, increase social emotional awareness and reduce the incidence of violence both at school and at home. All students at Village Leadership Academy participate in this program and every family is encouraged to take advantage of the family workshops and extracurricular activities offered by the program. The program is designed specifically to: 1) increase students’ ability to manage their emotions, evoke positive responses in others, and resolve conflicts peacefully, 2) foster healthy, supportive relationships between parents, children, and other responsible adults, 3) create a school culture where children and parents adhere to a clear set of positive behavioral standards and identify themselves as members of a caring and encouraging environment.

The program is comprised of six facets, each of which work together to ensure that each child receive a well-rounded and effective social emotional educational experience:

1. Social Emotional Learning is ensured through a school wide character development curriculum that reinforces school values, facilitates positive decision making, increases students’ emotional intelligence and teaches empathy. Students participate in Life Skills classes provided by the school counselor on a weekly basis.

2. Parent Education activities enhance parenting skills through the implementation of workshops that focus on parent child bonding, effective communication strategies, decreasing exposure to violence and effective non-violent discipline strategies. Parents are invited to attend workshops four times throughout the school year to discuss strategies to assist in parental/student relations.

3. Staff Development workshops that focus on identifying and addressing at-risk behavior increase staff knowledge of social emotional learning. All staff members engage in training sessions to increase their awareness of social-emotional development of their students.

4. Extracurricular Activities are designed to decrease the likelihood that students will engage in destructive and anti-social play outside of the school environment by providing socially constructive recreational activities. All students participate in a variety of extracurricular activities such as dance, Capoeira, Tabura, African drumming, etc. and participate in performances showcasing their talents.

5. Tutoring Services increase student academic achievement. Students who are in need of academic tutoring are invited to participate in small group tutoring sessions designed to meet the student where they are.

6. Counseling Services are available to parents and students who have been exposed. Selected students will meet with the school counselor on a regular basis for social emotional counseling.

The Youth Violence Prevention Initiative program at VLA works with numerous community partners to provide instruction and activities for our students.  Some of those community partners include:

Chicago West Community Music Center – Provider of in-school music instruction

Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center – Provider of after-school dance instruction

Minianka Afrikan Drum and Dance Ensemble – Provider of after-school African drumming instruction

Capoeira Akebelan – Provider of in-school and after-school Capoeira instruction

Discover Music, Discover Life, Inc. – Provider of in-school tutoring services

*The Youth Violence Prevention Initiative is funded through the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority.