“Let the next generation speak for themselves.” –Youth Speaks
Poetry is the most beautiful form of activism. Help the next generation change the world by finding their voice. Help the first ever San Fernando Valley team raise funds to compete in year’s Brave New Voices in Philadelphia on July 16-20, 2014.
A poem can do so many things. We have seen it break borders through microphone and breathless audiences. We have seen it give wings to a generation the world often sees as clipped and caged. We have seen poetry save lives. By finding their words, poetry teaches youth how to save themselves. Over and over again. In the San Fernando Valley poetry has given the youth a voice, they were trying so desperately to find. Help them share that voice with the world.
Three years ago the students of PUC Triumph Charter High School, a small charter school in the San Fernando Valley started to speak up. In a traditionally underserved community of first generation Latinos where many are living below the poverty line, a group of students found their home in spoken word. Youth who were previously apathetic and chronically unmotivated, came alive in my classroom. For the first time they believed that their voices, their stories mattered. And the more they shared them, the more engaged and empowered they became.
Their poems not only gave them the opportunity to tackle social justice issues through activism related art, but it redefined for this underprivileged community what it meant to be united through words. Poetry brought them together. Taught them empathy. In a time when people can be so divided, spoken word shared the insight we were all connected, though our stories might be different, in one way or another.
In 2012, our team competed the Get Lit Los Angeles regional Classic Slam. We took fourth place. This was an amazing accomplishment. Out of twenty other Los Angeles schools, some performing arts schools and private institution our small charter, who had never engaged with poetry before this event, made it to finals.
From that point on nothing was the same. Poetry has changed the culture of Triumph it has taught scholars how to connect with language, how to read through larger context, and how to own their own thoughts and feelings. There is no longer a disconnect between the student and the page, because through language they have found this thread that tie all of hearts together.
On our campus to be a poet, is to be Rock star. We had the most unexpected students sitting in on our poetry practices just because they wanted to be a part of something so inspiring. Poetry also brought the teachers and students together in a way we had never seen. Statistics have proven that student and teacher relationship has a direct influence on student performance. After that, test scores rose 30%, students started coming to school early just so they could talk to their coach about their next draft, the team’s next performance.
Last year our team coached by Kelly Grace Thomas and Becky Boss won the Los Angeles regional championship. It was the result of long practices born of love and dedication. The teachers often stayed until seven or eight at night with no extra pay. The students put in their all, before going home to hours of homework and siblings they need to care for. But it was all worth it.
This year, the San Fernando Valley team has a chance to compete in the international youth poetry competition Brave New Voices. Brave New Voices has been featured on HBO in a documentary that “captured teenagers picking up the pen and taking hold of the microphone with passion, intelligence, creativity, honesty and power.” Brave New Voices was created by Youth Speaks, Inc in 1998 after the inaugural Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam in San Francisco—the first poetry slam dedicated to youth in the nation’s history.
Since that time, Brave New Voices has grown to represent youth ages 13–19 from all across the United States and several cities and countries from around the world. BNV is the largest ongoing spoken word event in the world. The finale of Brave New Voices in 2008 and 2010 aired on HBO.
Please help our students share their talent, stories and bravery with the world. Their voices deserve to be heard.
Help “The next generation speak for themselves.”
Risks and challenges
We are thrilled to have this once in a lifetime opportunity, the only issue we are facing is funding.
Many of our poets have families who work two to three jobs to keep a safe and secure roof other children’s heads. Their mothers and fathers support in every way possible, but unfortunately they do not have the means to fly them across the country. In fact, many of our poets have never been on an airplane, or even left the state of California.
Your contribution would help fund a life-long dream of these powerful voices. While we are doing everything we can to raise money in our school and in the community, we are afraid it is not enough. The cost of registration and plane tickets is in the thousands. And with unprivileged youth and teachers on tight budgets, who are donating their time for free, we need some help.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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