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CHICAGO — A local organization is helping thousands of Chicago students with mentoring, counseling and trauma-informed support.

Anthony Williams is an alum of Becoming A Man, or B.A.M. and he continues to work with them.

“It was an amazing experience and looking back at it, I was able to learn more about myself and my classmates,” Williams said.

BAM is one of several programs operated by Youth Guidance engaging elementary and high school students with school-based counseling and trauma-informed support to help them reach their full potential.

“We do it through narrative therapy and our spaces are really safe,” Shykira Richards said.

Richards is the director of Working on Womanhood.

Many of the young people involved have experienced trauma, ranging from abuse to gun violence, health problems and bullying. Now, they’re also dealing with the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“What W.O.W. provides and what B.A.M. provides is the tools our students need to overcome the traumas they face,” Richards said.

With the focus on constantly checking in for well-being and healing, Williams says the programs are changing outcomes. 

Youth Guidance is hosting its Bright Futures Gala, the organization’s largest fundraiser coming up on Wednesday.