We are gearing up at UCAN to send 15 youth on an unforgettable trip to the RedCan Graffiti Jam on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. The Cheyenne River Youth Project organizes Red Can to merge graffiti culture with Lakota culture. The event will feature national and international artists, including hip-hop groups, drummers and dancers. Youth from UCAN will participate in the event and enjoy camping in the wilderness. For many of the youth, this will be their first out-of-state trip as well as their first time camping.
On Thursday, February 9, UCAN’s Auxiliary Board dedicated their third annual Share the Love fundraiser to raising money and awareness for the youths’ trip. The event raised more than $3,300 to date and was attended by 65 young professionals and guests. Fundraising efforts will continue to close the gap needed to pay for travel, equipment and food expenses.
Nicole Seaton, director of government grants and contracts, brought the idea to another UCAN staff member. “I’ve been volunteering with the Cheyenne River Youth Project since 1999 and I’ve always wanted to attend RedCan. I started chatting about the reservation with Haman (UCAN youth development coach) one day and when I learned he is a graffiti artist, we started talking about the event. He immediately thought about attending and we discussed ways to raise funds to allow him to bring youth on his caseload. Travel has always expanded my world and I wanted our youth to experience that feeling,” said Nicole.
Haman expressed, “The opportunity to travel, explore and create during our journey to South Dakota is already challenging the way I view mentoring and interrupting the cycle of violence and trauma in the lives of our participants. The gift that art creates around cultural exchange and sharing is valuable to the process of exposing us to the possibility of using our voice to bring attention to issues that impact our own safety and success.”
Nicole also believes that the project will enable the youth to connect over common experiences, “When I first visited the reservation, I was so struck by how different it was from Chicago – the landscape, the culture, the language – everything!”
She continued, “At the same time, Cheyenne River youth experience many of the same challenges:; drugs, violence, gangs, that our youth face, and RedCan seems like an opportunity to work towards peace together, to learn and grow together, to build something amazing together.”
Andrew Selcke, UCAN Auxiliary Board’s co-chair, explained why the board wanted to raise money for this specific event. “The board is hungry to be involved on a deeper level and is always on the lookout for ways we can engage with UCAN leadership and the youth that we serve. It was no shock that when this idea was brought to our attention, the board was unanimously ecstatic to be a part of it.”
Haman anticipates the learning lessons that will be created from this trip, “I am very excited about what is developing as we prepare to embark on this journey of discovery, expression and expanded perceptions. It will be hard work and a lot of fun. “
To view photos from the Share the Love event please visit our photo gallery.
If you were unable to attend Share the Love but would still like to support the youth in getting to RedCan, please click here.