posted: December 16, 2016 8:44 am

Get IN Chicago is currently collaborating with more than 20 agencies on the SYNC (Strengthening Youth through a Network of Care) initiative to strengthen mentoring and CBT programs and create a rigorous, central intake and case management system for acutely high-risk youth in Austin, Englewood, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, Roseland, South Shore, and West Englewood.

To introduce you to more of our SYNC partners, we plan to profile staff members from service organizations over the next few weeks.  These individuals are currently engaged in capacity building trainings with Get IN Chicago.

 

Eugenia Olison
Clinician at Primo Center for Women and Children
Works in Austin and North Lawndale
Originally from Bronzeville
@olisonbrand

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Q. How is your program tied to reducing youth violence?
When [young people] are fueled with anger or violence, we try to deal with them on the front end so they don’t respond with anger.  But the biggest thing, I think, is having a consistent client/therapist relationship. Being present with our young people, being a consistent face, and the genuine love that we show plays a huge role with the therapy.

Q. Who are the kids in your program? Is there a story about one in particular you would like to share?
We had a freshman young lady who was very aggressive, combative, and difficult to calm down when she is upset. But after working with her, we started seeing her change her thoughts in how she responds to other people.  One day, after school at 3pm, she rushed into the classroom and told us, “Oh my gosh, I wanted to tell you guys – I wanted to fight this young lady but I didn’t. I wanted to let you know.”

I learned working with young people that a lot of times you help them change their thoughts, but behaviors don’t always change immediately. For example, they might start to think, “I know in my mind it’s not right to fight this girl, but I’m going to do it anyway.”  It’s a hard concept to explain to people who don’t work with young people, but we know that starting to change their mind is still good.

Q. What do you like about working in Austin and North Lawndale?

I like working in neighborhoods where the young people are very resilient.  On the West side, there are lots of families: parents walking their kids to school, where people are hanging out and relationship building. There are also so many neighborhood businesses, black owned businesses, churches – it’s like the ‘whole village’ concept for young people and their families.

Some people – mostly people who have never been here – might imagine a rough and violent area, but there are so many families making it work. These people are out at the park enjoying each other, sniffing the flowers that come through the concrete. Kids are excelling in school and academically. I love working in these communities.

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The Peace Corner received a grant from Get IN Chicago to support summer youth programming in 2016.

Q. What would you recommend we check out in those neighborhoods?

  • Lawndale Fitness Center – a state of the art fitness center
  • The Green Tomato – a Starbucks vibe for coffee and snacks
  • Peace Corner – a place where young people from all across the community come together for games, art, and activities – also home to one of the only full basketball courts on the West side!

Q. How do you collaborate with other Get IN Chicago organizations?

Get IN Chicago has assisted us with understanding the nature of what we are trying to do. They have provided resources and opportunities to collaborate with other agencies.  Working with Lurie (technical assistance provider) has especially helped us with staying in the guidelines of ethical and clinical standards.

Collaborating with other agencies, we often encounter the same young people but with different services… We are working together to make sure there are no gaps, which is typical for young people in this side of town. I consider us to be gap fillers.

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Eugenia and the Primo team are being trained in the SPARCS therapy model, which has had demonstrated impact on high-risk youth populations

Three fun facts about yourself:

  1. I am 6’3”.
  2. I am a “PK” (pastor’s kid). My parents are ministers.
  3. My favorite quote comes from my dad: “The fruit is not for the tree” – or basically, the skills and the love you have, you need to give it away to someone. Give the love to future generations.