It Makes Me Think…
This past March, I had the honor of being a part of an amazing project that happens a couple of times a year in St. Louis – ‘The Hip Hop Poetry Project’. This is a week long event that ends with a performance. The Prison Performing Arts in St. Louis, MO comes together with the Juvenile Detention Center, St. Louis during the teens spring break, bringing in an Art Instructor/Stage Set and Costume Designer (Me), Hip Hop Dance Instructor, Poetry/Writing Instructor, Graphic Arts Instructor, Performance Instructor and a team of support to (hopefully) inspire, encourage, and help bring out gifts and talents in teens that are staying at JDC while waiting on their hearing before the judge. Every time I do this week, I go into it a bit nervous, hoping that I make some kind of impact on at least a few of the kids lives and then I leave the week inspired, encouraged and motivated that just maybe I can make a small difference in the world and help people through art in a way that it has helped me as well.
This year, the group of kids were amazing. Approximately 33 young men and 4 ladies were a part of this week, giving their heart in such vulnerable ways that I cannot imagine I would have done the same at their age. Yet wearing their hearts on their sleeves is the beginning of change and is the beginning of ending the week with a most powerful, heart filled, thought provoking, their world changing night of performance as approximately 200+ guests come that are supporters, parents, friends of PPA and JDC, and community members. It definitely is not a night shy of impact to some degree. I just wish that everyone could get a glimpse and experience the statement that such a week leaves on the lives of teens that are crying out for help, in desperate need of a voice and an ear as well as a shoulder to cry on and someone to believe in them…the same things that each of us crave in our own way, amidst our own little world in a big world that can at times seem crazy and lonely.
As we become the art entrepreneurs we were created and are driven to be, let’s not forget that we need to continue to give back to our communities in some way. We each have a gift given to us. As we grow and nurture our gift, let’s use it in a way to bring hope, encouragement, skills, time, an ear, whatever it is to help others along that way. Every time I stop to help someone else that has a greater need than me, I seem to reap and receive more than I give.