Empowering Change on Gun Violence Through Art 

In a world where gun violence continues to impact communities and individuals, After School Matters teens partnered with Project Unloaded, an organization dedicated to changing the narrative around guns. Young people used their creativity, the power of art, and their voices to help shift the views around guns in Chicago and how they actually make people less safe.  

Hundreds of ASM teens participated in a virtual Teen Table Talk and learned about the risks of having guns. Participants then developed content to address the issue of gun violence and how these weapons cause more harm than good. Teens created poetry, art, and even thoughtful social media posts, to explore how they can change gun culture in their neighborhoods.  

“When it comes to changing culture and getting a message out, no one is better equipped than teens,” said Nina Vinik, founder and executive director of Project Unloaded. “Teens know that their communities would be safer with fewer guns, but they may not know how their voices could help make that vision a reality. By training them on the facts of gun violence and challenging them to use their creative skills to spread the message, we can start to finally chip away at the myths that drive young people to get a gun.” 

Research shows that young adults are forming opinions and making decisions about guns, and most believe the myth that a gun will make them safer. The facts, however, tell a different story: Places with more guns have more gun violence and people with guns are more likely to be shot – not less. 

“We are proud to partner with Project Unloaded, encouraging our teens to use their voices and educate others on the facts around gun violence in a creative way,” said Mary Ellen Caron, ASM’s CEO. “Who better to help change hearts and minds than our young people who are the next generation of advocates and changemakers.” 

Teenagers are proving that art is not just a form of self-expression, but a powerful tool for shifting narratives and fostering social change. Their creations ignite conversations, instill empathy, and inspire action, making a significant impact on communities and society at large. As these young artists continue to use their brushes, pens, and voices, they are creating a brighter, safer future for us all. 

Check out some of the inspiring statements, poetry, and artwork created by our talented teens. 

Cover art by ASM Teen Jayden C.