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Creating space for Black youth to heal

The Irreducible Grace Foundation (IGF) opened its new Black Youth Healing Arts Center earlier this fall. The center provides cultural, ancestral, and innovative practices for healing Black youth.

IGF is a Saint Paul-based non-profit focused on creating safe spaces for youth of Color to heal from trauma. Executive Director and Founder Dr. Darlene Fry says IGF provides mentoring, life skills, employment, leadership training, and self-care practices for teens and young adults.

“Because for Black youth, when they walk out the door of their homes, and sometimes for some, even in their homes. It's a daily barrage of ‘how do I get through this moment?’” said Fry. “So our role in creating a safe space where they can come and be and not have to worry about who's looking at them, what color clothes they have on, you know, ‘Is the color of their skin going to trigger someone?”

Through the use of Mind-Body Medicine and visual and performing arts, IGF helps young people to both talk about and heal from the traumas they have experienced. Dr. Fry says IGF created the program after working with young people in foster care across the state.

“We were doing this conference and all the young people who were attending started opening up about the trauma they had experienced. Our hearts opened to them but we didn't have any tools. We didn't have anything to share with them and say, ‘okay, when you're back in this small town all by yourself, here's something you can do when these emotions come up again.’”

The new Black Youth Healing Arts Center has a holistic integrative approach and is co-designed with youth for youth. Initial offerings include Self-Care Sundays which combine art, healing tools, and a family-style meal.

Community member Janyesha Jackson grew up attending after-school programs and now works with the foundation. She says she’s looking forward to the emotional, creative and artistic side of youth work.

“It's been incredible to watch how the IGF staff and the young people speak to each other as if they are on the same level. I really love that because I believe that young people can speak best to their experiences. We as adults are the ones who can give them the tools to get the things that they need. I think that's what IGF and, and the Black Youth Healing Arts Center stands for.”

Moving forward, Dr.Fry says she wants to create an on-site residential space for young people between the ages of 18 to 26 who are in need of housing and are looking for leadership roles within the foundation.


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