When most people think of art, they don’t immediately think of writing being included under this umbrella. But writing is verbalized art. Our sessions this week involved writing as an artistic outlet for the youth participants. It’s important to allow for everyone to try different forms of art in our sessions; not everyone paints or draws, and the ability to create in multiple different ways expands their creativity. We also don’t want to exhaust our visual art supplies before the program is over.
Saturday`s session at Belfort House was the first time we focused on writing during our program. I had to prepare for this session; Saturday was the first time that I was tasked to run a session. I hoped that a decent number of residents would join in and receive my plan well. Thankfully, this session went very well. A handful of people joined the session and wrote powerful pieces from the exercise I had them participate in. I had everyone take 30 seconds to write down as many words as they can come up with. Then I had them choose 4 words from that list to use for their writing. The last thing that I did was give them a list of 6 words to also include in their writing: life, bold, tomorrow, courage, might, and growth. All 10 words had to be used at least once, and there wasn’t a specific topic or form of writing that they had to focus on. They took the challenge, and took 15 minutes to write a piece to share with the group. One participant was excited with the piece that he wrote, and he will be working on it to share with us during the next session. Another participant used the exercise to work on a chapter for her novel, and she felt that the task was helpful for her writing. I`m glad that I could give them a starting place to help their writing, and I hope that they will continue to write on their own as well.
Sunday`s session at Covenant House was run by Tamara, a journalist, singer, and creator of a radio station. Tamara`s talk with the youth was inspirational; she compared people to seeds, as we are all useful and have a purpose. She also showed how a diamond, which is very valuable, starts out in a different state and takes years to form into its final stage. She used that to explain how we all take time to mold and change, but we still have value. Her speech lightened the spirits in the room, and it allowed for participants to want to write, draw, or freestyle raps in order to perfect and enjoy their craft. Networking also occurred during this session; one young lady wants to publish a book she wrote, and Tamara was able to share a publishing connection that she had with the determined writer. This is one major benefit of our program; we can connect people of different worlds together and help make goals happen.
Monday`s session at La Casa Norte was cut short due to the lack of youth participants. We learned that one of our previous participants cannot return due to being targeted on the streets. This is important information to share to those who are unaware of the issues that homeless and at-risk youth face every day. The safety of these young people is threatened by many things, including street violence. We must help them in any way that we can, whether it’s by providing them shelter or food, or giving them an outlet to express themselves. This is why our art program is important; we not only give the youth a safe space to be themselves, but we also let people know about what they face and how to help them.