Child witnesses of Chicago gun violence talk their way through the pain

Chicago kids recount stories of violence in t... 02:49

CHICAGO -- The police dispatch calls in South Chicago come with numbing regularity. But for those who see what the rest of us only hear, there's a pain that is real and long-lasting.

And on the far South Side of Chicago, young eyewitnesses are trying to talk their way through it.

Chicago kids tell their stories: "Will I live... 01:17

In a 16-week program at the YMCA of Metro Chicago called Story Squad, kids eight to eighteen learn how to compose narratives that turn their harrowing personal experiences into recorded stories.

"I remember being about seven when I first got caught in a cross-fire. I was standing on the porch and waiting for my pops to come down the stairs," sixteen-year-old Malek Hunter said in his story.

He was one of the first participants. "It just helps me, inside," he said of the Story Squad program.

These children's stories are unimaginable to Chicagoans who live just a few miles away.

For 14-year-old Edward, 15-year-old Jalissa, 14-year old Cierra and Malek, they are not fairy tales. They all told CBS News' Dean Reynolds they've witnessed shootings.

storysquaden.png
Cierra, Edward, Jalissa, and Malek share their stories of growing up amid Chicago violence. CBS News

"One was right by the side of my house, Edward said. "One was in front of my house," Jalissa followed.

Grant Buhr runs the two-year old program. He's part sound engineer, part social worker.

stroysquad.png
Grant Buhr works with a Story Squad teen on her story CBS News

"The next stage of Story Squad is finding ways to plug in these stories into a policy environment where they can have real impact."

"Story Squad" helps young gun violence victim... 00:54

And while talking about it does help, these are still children after all.

"All of a sudden I hear three gun shots. One of my brothers said to my mom, 'Mom, I got shot!'" Cierra described in her story.

She became emotional in her interview with CBS News. "How's your brother doing today?" Reynolds asked.

"He's doing good," Cierra told him.

So one story at least has a happy ending.