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For students at the Village Leadership Academy, understanding consent and sexual violence is a weighty but important topic. Talking with teachers and experts inspired the class with a unique idea for how to respond when the issue hits close to home.

Students create coloring book to support survivors of sexual assault w/support of #ChiTrustActingUp

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“How to Help a Friend” is a new coloring book designed, written and illustrated by students. Inside, readers will find activities teaching them supportive things they can do and say to help, if a friend discloses an assault.

“Students instinctively knew that we needed something that was safe, to allow us to feel comfortable with the issue,” said Daniel Ash, The Chicago Community Trust’s chief marketing officer. “And kids are comfortable with coloring books.”

After conceiving the idea, a group of students applied for funding to produce it though the Acting Up Awards—a microgrant program created by the Trust to supplement the On the Table initiative, by bringing community ideas to life.

In the students’ application video, Jada Miles explained, “We learned in Statistics that most survivors disclose to their teachers at school or other peers, and so we think it’s important that teachers and students know how to handle a survivor.”

The project was one of 64 that received an Acting Up Award in 2016. With that $1,000, they were able to have their book printed and delivered.

Fox 32 News recently ran a feature story highlighting the project. They report that the students now hope to distribute the coloring books to teachers for use in classrooms beyond their own.

Front cover of a coloring book showing a girl's head and the title, How to Help a Friend

Scheherazade Tillet of A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit that uses art to educate young people about gender-based violence, has worked with the students on their lessons and the resulting project.

“I think this coloring book is a really great step in challenging the culture that we live in to create a culture that is healthy and loving for people,” Tillet said.