Room for change

There is a difference between a room filled with people crippled by painful circumstances and one filled with people who have been galvanized into action to change them.  The auditorium at the University of Chicago School of Social Administration last Wednesday was certainly one of the latter.  The forum featured the debut of a film produced this summer by members of Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY), presenting a shift in their campaign to bring a trauma center to the University of Chicago Medical Center. Torri, a member of the dedicated production team, told me with her characteristic animation and enthusiasm that their hope was to “educate people in a more engaging way” and to reach more community members using this new media.

As the lights dimmed and the film rolled, they seemed to have achieved Torri’s goal.  Filled with stirring interviews and powerful images, the film guided the audience through an informative and emotional journey outlining the desperate need for such a facility at the UCMC.

Met last year with an unreceptive audience in the University administration, rather than acquiesce, FLY adapted their message and fortified their efforts.  They are no longer advocating for an adult level one trauma center to be built from the ground up; the call is now to modify procedures at the existing facilities of UCMC, which stood just across the Midway from the screening, its silhouette fading into the sky as both approached the ashen grey of autumn nights.  There are 15 pediatric trauma centers in the U.S. that accept youth over 18; FLY is now asking that the UCMC become one of them.  As the film’s narrator stated, it is “both medically and morally the right thing to do.”

One of FLY’s founding members expounded on that assertion; if the university responds, then “most people probably with the university instead of against them.”  Hundreds of lives could be saved, and even more would be touched by the fact that community relationships would be on the path to being mended.