Last week in reaction to the Derrion Albert killing and other violence in Chicago, I blogged about getting involved with our youth and the need to recognize community organizations leading the fight. While trying to think of my first spotlight, my mind immediately went to a story that I read in the Chicago Weekly about The Dreamcatcher Foundation. This organization was started by Stephanie Daniels and Brenda Myers-Powell, two Chicago-based survivors of the sex trade industry. Focused on Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, the mission of The Dreamcatcher Foundation is reach out “to girls and young women between the ages of 12-25 years old with the hopes of igniting confidence, courage, independence, and inner strength within them.” Englewood is one of Chicago’s most crime-ridden communities with high rates of violence and prostitution.
Some of the young ladies who participate in the programs have been victims of mental, physical, and sexual abuse. This past makes them vulnerable for sexual exploitation, and this is exactly what Daniels and Myers-Powell want to help them avoid. In addition to traditional mentoring activities, such as arts and crafts, field trips, and academic support, the girls also have access to health services, emotional and psychological services, and personal development workshops.
I think the work done by The Dreamcatcher Foundation is some of the most important work being done in our community. Many people, young/old and male/female, often make unsafe and unhealthy lifestyle choices because they aren’t sure about their self-worth. This foundation makes an earnest and holistic approach to helping these girls set goals and understand that they are so much more than a vessel for sexual relations, either consensual or forced situations.
To learn more about The Dreamcatcher Foundation and how you can become involved, please visit http://www.thedreamcatcherfoundation.org!