Utilizing art as a means of self-expression, allows for issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality to be discussed freely and questioned. Youth learn to utilize positive outlets for feelings of anger, aggression, revenge, loss, and hurt. According to the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, youth have a greater chance of overcoming negative events if they have the following:
- A sense of purpose
- Positive care givers
- Supportive teachers & staff
The V.O.I.C.E.S. program introduces Protective Factors to youth and families that encourages success in positive peer/family relationships, health, school, and transitions to adulthood. We utilize spoken word, poetry and hip hop to break down the defense mechanisms youth develop in dealing with unfamiliar territory. This is often the first time a youth comes into contact with a caring adult that allows freedom of expression through means that are relevant to them. This allows our staff to create connections with these youth and help empower them. Our teaching artists lead students in discussion of poetic tools, including image, metaphor, rhythm, line, stanza, alliteration and word play.
A part of each session is devoted to reading aloud and discussing students’ work. Students are encouraged to respond to each other’s creative efforts in thoughtful and positive ways, and to learn from each other’s work and experiences. Individual sessions are generally 60 to 90 minutes. We like to meet with students at least once a week for the duration of the program.