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Empowering Youth Through Art: The Simple Good’s Journey of Positivity and Transformation

Written by on May 26, 2023

Chicago nonprofit The Simple Good harnesses the power of art and discussion to empower youth and spread positivity — part of their mission to promote “good” in a world overshadowed by negativity. Leading up to their next big event, founder and executive director Priya Shah stopped by the Vocalo studios to discuss her work with mornings host Bekoe.

Priya Shah started The Simple Good as a blog in 2011, where she aimed to capture small moments of joy within her community. As these stories gained viral attention, they began to inspire hope among all who encountered them. Motivated by the impact they were generating, The Simple Good expanded its reach by launching the TSG Art Program in 2013, integrating social-emotional learning and mindfulness-based art education, which was, in part, inspired Shah’s own work as a visual artist. Soon after, they became an official nonprofit on August 29, 2014.

“I’m really trying to defy the stereotype that Chicago has, and I genuinely don’t believe in it,” Shah explained. “There is so much good that happens in the city, and we need to fight for that good. Step one is by actively looking for it.” 

An artist herself, Priya Shah hopes to empower young people with the tools for positive creative expression early in their lives. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio

The primary goal of The Simple Good is to equip young individuals with the necessary tools to navigate trauma, foster resilience and cultivate empathy. Through art, students are encouraged to identify, express and share their personal interpretations of “good,” thereby nurturing their creativity and fostering a positive sense of connection and purpose.

“The challenge is … you see a lot of folks that don’t really know who they are, and we have a lot of lost folks,” Shah said. “When you really embed into … a child knowing that you are born with an inherent good in your life … you can use that to impact the world.”

On June 24, The Simple Good is hosting their highly anticipated eighth annual Hunt For Good Urban Art Hunt Fundraiser. Participants are instructed to create a team of two to four people to travel around the city and solve riddles, discover art and complete challenges with the goal of becoming the “Champions of the Hunt For Good.” 

This event not only serves as a way to raise money, but also encourages people to explore their neighborhoods and discover the simple goodness surrounding them. With a goal of raising $35,000, the funds will go toward supporting the organization’s summer programs. The event will be held at the Willis Tower, featuring its beautiful rooftop views, and will also include a silent auction, taste testing from local breweries, distilleries, restaurants, a live DJ and more.

“This challenge encourages everyone to discover the simple goodness that can be found all across this beautiful city,” she said. “We should not only acknowledge it, but also celebrate it and come together as a city to spread this simple good throughout our community. That’s what we are striving to achieve as an organization.”

“There is so much good that happens in the city, and we need to fight for that good. Step one is by actively looking for it,” Shah explains about The Simple Good’s mission. Morgan Ciocca/Vocalo Radio

Recently, Priya Shah joined Vocalo mornings host Bekoe in the studio to discuss the transformative power of art, the inspiration behind her work and the importance of finding the simple goodness in our everyday lives. They also delved into empowering the next generation of activists and how Priya became involved in activism herself.

Follow the Simple Good on Instagram and Twitter and sign up for the Hunt For Good here.

Interview hosted, edited and produced by Bekoe

Introduction written by Omi Salisbury

Photography by Morgan Ciocca

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