Elaine meets Obama during Chicago trip

HEY, MR. PRESIDENT! Elaine Forde and friend captured in a selfie with former US president Barack Obama.

HEY, MR. PRESIDENT! Elaine Forde and friend captured in a selfie with former US president Barack Obama.

A Derry-based youth worker is currently exploring ways to help tackle policing issues in the US city of Chicago.

Elaine Forde, of The Playhouse, spearheads the ‘Street Talk’ youth art project which uses the arts to create better relationships between the PSNI and young people.

She’s now using ‘Street Talk’ as an example to explore creative approaches to policing and justice in the US’ third biggest city.

The three week programme has an emphasis on arts, social practice and justice.

Elaine has just returned from the first week of the fellowship during which she shared her experience of using the arts for social change in Northern Ireland with many Chicago based artists and community activists.

During her stay, Elaine was invited to attend the Open Engagement Conference which was hosted at University of Illinois at Chicago.

During the conference, she met with acclaimed international artist, Theaster Gates, and also connected with Studio Gang, an innovative and contemporary

architecture company who recently created a project entitled ‘Polis Station’. The project was an innovative way of using design to help people imagine changes in police-community relations.

Another key group that Elaine met with were officers from the Chicago Police Department who work in districts where crime, including gun violence,

is high.

Elaine shared her knowledge and experience of using the arts to develop relationships between the police and the community.

One of the unexpected highlights of her trip was a chance meeting with none other than Barack Obama.

The former US president had returned home to Chicago for 24 hours and Elaine managed to get some snaps and introduce herself to the former United States Commander and Chief.