South Side Stories Spotlight, August 2014: Belonging

Each month South Side Stories will feature digital stories that spotlight the lives of adolescents and young adults from the South Side of Chicago.

This month, we feature digital narratives by four young women who share stories of belonging. These stories relate to the physical spaces and the groups of people that make them feel safe and secure.

(Click here for an expanded Spotlight that includes a resource guide.)

In the first story, Precious Things, Mariah describes the importance of having a personal space.


The second storyA Small Apartment, depicts Alexandria making her home through an emotional rather than physical connection.


The third story, Transplanted Flowers, honors the author’s grandmother. Growing up, Shawnteal felt like an outsider with only her grandmother for support.


In Waiting for the Bell, Ava starts her story at school with kids laughing at her. She realizes she cannot wait to be accepted, and attends a nurturing performing arts program each day after school.


We thank the authors for sharing their stories.

Broader implications

Mariah, Alexandria, and Shawnteal each credit their families, biological or chosen, with shaping their identities as emergent adults.

While the South Side of Chicago context is unique, the stories are universal: young people have talents, individuality, hopes, and dreams. They require privacy, emotional support, after school programs, and meaningful adult relationships for health and well being. Young African Americans, particularly those in low-resourced communities, are particularly vulnerable. Providing young people with the safety that comes through a sense of belonging can help them find their voices, as they have done in these stories.

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