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ICAH art installation brings beauty, social messages
by Jason Carson Wilson
2014-07-23

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Art can please the eye and/or illuminate and educate. Youth from the Illinois Caucus on Adolescent Health ( ICAH ) gathered in the courtyard of University Church, 5655 S. University Ave., to create beautiful messages through art, some of which they left behind after the event.

Some of their creations brightened the sanctuary the following Sunday; others are being displayed at Jane Addams-Hull House Museum, sending powerful messages. They helped remind people that not all of our youth are blessed with the best living conditions.

Affinity Community Services, Jane Addams-Hull House Museum and University Church joined forces with ICAH for the event. Art was used to raise awareness about the danger of the Parental Notification for Abortion Law.

"It causes a dangerous situation between youth and their parents," Anthony Beaver, a Youth Leadership Council member, said.

The legislation requires medical providers to notify any adult family member of a minor seeking an abortion, according to icah.org .

"When this isn't safe for youth, they need the full range of confidential, safe, and legal reproductive options. Since forced notification mandates a conversation between youth and their given families about sex and reproductive services, we gathered both positive and negative experiences," the Web site said.

Getting the Parental Notification for Abortion Law repealed is the goal. However, the art installation helped stressed the need for teens to have safe space—whether they were revealing an abortion or coming out.

"I hope that people walk away with the idea that not all families have great conversations," Akosuah Owusu, a Youth Leadership Council member, said.

Painted windows, terrariums and a string of flags decorated University Church's sanctuary. All those items, particularly the flags, represent so many real-life situations, according to Youth Leadership Council member Erica Phillips.

"The flags bring the stories more to life," Phillips said. "We wanted to embody the stories in as many ways as we possibly could. When these stories are told, it puts the faces [out there]."

Phillips said she'd "lost count" of the stories that had been collected. Kim L. Hunt, Affinity Community Services executive director, again stressed the purpose of the installation.

"I think the goal is to open up people for conversation," Hunt said, noting that it "allowed young people to use their creativity to respond to a public-policy issue."


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