A Year for Peace

Give Our Youth a Chance

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Give Our Youth a Chance

Promoting peace through hip hop and urban storytelling.

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective was founded by Susan Colangelo and seven additional artists in Old North St. Louis to combat gun violence. Incorporated as a public charity in 2014, The Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artist Collective creates a platform for community engagement through an artistic lens to shift perceptions and bring hope to the St. Louis community. The organization brings together professional artists and minority youth ages 16-24 to create social change, with a focus on gun violence prevention.

Stitchers Youth Council (16-24-year-olds) was founded by youth in 2014 and is central to the decision-making and strategic direction of the organization. In 2015, the organization opened the Stitchers Storefront Studio in the historic Loop District for recording, editing, and publishing. More than 115 youth have been involved with programming since 2014.

Stitchers collect stories, reframe and retell them through art, writing and performance to promote understanding, civic pride, intergenerational relationships and literacy. Youth and professional artists document St. Louis by collecting stories, reframing and retelling them through art, writing and performance to promote understanding, civic pride, intergenerational relationships and literacy.

The goal for all Story Stitchers projects is to promote a better educated, more peaceful and caring region through storytelling. A core creative group of professional artists and African American youth generate original work through a unique form of "urban storytelling" that includes hip hop, spoken word, photography and videography and disseminate new works through public presentations and performances. The Collective's body of work focuses on gun violence prevention and topics related to public health issues.

Story Stitchers’ programs are driven by the interests and concerns of low-income, black youth and as a result have focused on gun violence since 2014. Gun violence is a pressing public health crisis that consumes the attention of the engaged youth. Youth have the opportunity to work through their pain and loss and be a force multiplier, impacting families, schools and neighborhoods.

Stitchers is committed to placing youth at the center of the work both in identifying topics for exploration as well as the methods for engagement. This approach builds a community of youth and professional artists who respect one another. We are proud that our primary method for recruiting new youth is word of mouth from their peers.

The Collective meets with youth year-round and has presented publicly over 150 times, engaging a diverse audiences of over 15,000.

Story Stitchers is having an impact on neighborhoods in St. Louis. Projects create a platform for community engagement through an artistic lens and with it the Saint Louis Story Stitchers work to shift perceptions and realities and bring hope to the Saint Louis community.