Friday, September 18, 2009

Empowering Nashville Youth to Speak Out

Youth Speaks Nashville uses literary and performing arts to promote positive youth development. They focus on after school workshops, open mics, slams, and shows. They also have creative writing and spoken word poetry school residencies. They make education (especially various forms of literacy) relevant to young people, they teach presentation skills, and they empower youth to be leaders in their communities.

Empowering youth is a critical piece of their programming. “Youth Speaks believes that having knowledge, practice, and confidence in the written and spoken language is essential to the self-empowerment of an individual.” Youth Speaks especially seeks to empower youth in underserved communities, giving them “as many opportunities as possible to develop and publicly present their voices both live and in print, video, audio, and digital media.” And they believe that giving youth a voice is the first step in social change.

They build the Commitment to Learning asset by teaching young people in a hands-on, highly interactive atmosphere. They combine poetry, spoken word, and classroom settings to make education come alive.

Their focus on developing community helps to build Social Competencies. “Youth Speaks reflects diversity and engenders a community of young artists who reach across demographic boundaries toward self-exploration and growth, providing a platform where conflicts are resolved on the page or the stage, rather than on the street.”

Nashville is very proud of this nonprofit that nurtures our youth. Check out this teaser of their fall events to find a way that you and your youth might get involved!

THE STATE OF THE WORD WORKSHOPS - Nashville's top spoken word poets facilitate creative writing and spoken word workshops for writers, poets, and emcees between the ages of 15 and 19 during this workshop series..

SPOKES WORKSHOP - Youth writers and organizers come together to prepare and workshop individual and group pieces as well as plan and organize Youth Speaks events. Facilitated by Nashville's top spoken word poets.

SIGMA LAMBDA GAMMA POETRY JAM - A night of music, poetry, and dance featuring Vandy Spoken Word and Youth Speaks poets.

DOING THE RIGHT THING - Youth Speaks poets to perform at this Urban League event in honor of young Middle Tennesseans who are doing the right thing.

AFRICAN STREET FESTIVAL - The African American Cultural Alliance’s phenomenal family-oriented festival celebrating African and African American culture.

SHELBY CLASSIC GOLF SCRAMBLE - This four-person scramble tournament is a benefit for Youth Speaks Nashville.

SOUTHERN FESTIVAL OF BOOKS - Youth Speaks poets to present in the children's and young adults tent.

FESTIVELY LOCAL- Festively Local is a 3 day camping festival celebrating Regional Music, Food and Art benefiting Food Security Partners, Oasis Center, and Youth Speaks Nashville.

For more information on Youth Speaks Nashville and their many events, visit