After the Table

Coloring books that take on a tough subject

At Chicago’s Village Leadership Academy, students are asked each year, as part of the school’s Grass Roots Campaign (GRC), to identify problems within their communities and to create an action plan to address the problem. In 2016, the sixth-grade class hosted an On the Table conversation about its GRC, and decided to address sexual assault. That’s a heavy topic for middle-schoolers, yes, but it’s even more significant because the students wanted to direct their actions toward even younger children.

The result is “How to Help a Friend – A Coloring Book.” Featuring hand-drawn illustrations of children talking, listening to and comforting each other, the book is beautiful in its simplicity – and efficient in its clarity: Audiences of all ages can interact with the material.  It is designed to help students whose friends might confide in them about an unwelcomed sexual experience or assault – called a disclosure – know what to do with that information and how to support their friend. “We think it’s important that teachers and students know how to handle a survivor, so we designed a coloring book that teaches people how to handle survivors,” said Jada Miles, a sixth-grader who helped develop the book.

A key step of GRC is to invite outside organizations to be part of the project. The school worked with A Long Walk Home and Rape Victims Advocates to create the coloring book, which is dedicated to all childhood survivors of sexual assault.  It was printed with funds from a 2016 Acting Up Award, which allowed them to share the book broadly beyond the school’s walls.

The GRC program changes every year, but the impact of the coloring book is still present. A Long Walk Home has kept in touch with the students who created the book and have used it as a resource. The book includes interactive materials, tips on how to care for a survivor and a glossary of words used throughout the book.

A Long Walk Home

Founded in 2003, A Long Walk Home, Inc. (ALWH) is a Chicago-based national non-profit that uses art to educate, inspire, and mobilize young people to end violence against girls and women.

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Rape Victim Advocates

Regardless of when and where a survivor’s journey begins—in the ER just after an assault or through a phone call for help to make sense of something that happened 20 years ago—RVA is here every step of the way.

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