Youth Creativity

Alysa

Alysa is an amazing student from Endeavor Academy who has worked through issues of self-esteem and body image in the Phoenix Rising workshops. Halfway through the workshop series, she came up to a facilitator after class and said she had an idea for an incredible performance piece, and wanted to perform it for her classmates. Alysa was the guest artist for her workshop this past week, and she dazzled the room with her inspiring poem and her radiant beauty – with AND without makeup. We love and honor our youths’ powerful voices!

Ivan’s First Performance

IvanIvan Villegas, 16, walked in the packed auditorium of Cherry Creek High School on February 4th and immediately wanted to leave. He told AfA Program Manager, MJ Smart, that he wouldn’t have agreed to perform if he knew how big the audience would be. There were roughly 250 people filling the room. The energy was high and people were anxious for the opening ceremony of the Diversity Fair to begin.

Ivan, keen to the energy of the room, started searching for a way to get out of his performance. Luckily, he was calmed by the confidence MJ and youth poet, Rachel Icolari, shared with him. Sweaty and shaky, Ivan jumped up out of his seat in the first row when the em cee called his name. He scurried across the stage, grabbed the mic free from the em cee and drew in a deep breathe.

With the confidence of a seasoned performer, Ivan introduced himself to the hundreds of spectators before him. “My poem is titled ‘Diversity,’ and it goes like this…”

Ivan knocked it out of the park! His piece was powerful and timely, and perfect for the event! The inspiration for Ivan’s piece came from his experience at Slam Nuba, a local poetry slam that his workshop attended last month.

Ivan is a pleasure to work with and an inspiration to all he comes in contact with. Welcome to the Art from Ashes family, Ivan!

The Power of Your Support

phoenix-kevinWhat is Success?

Manuel Perez, Age 17

 

What is success?
Is it the big mansion and the shiny sports cars?
Is it the millions in the bank and the shirt and tie?
Or is it finding yourself?
Is it reaching a goal that you long struggled for?
Is it doing what you want without caring about what others will say?
Breaking the barrier of society that wants you to
Walk a fine line without stepping out.
A line set by the followers and not the leaders.
Success is being the owner of your thoughts and values
Which you guard with your sharp sword,
Without letting society push you to fit in.

Think of a time you felt invisible. Maybe you were picked last in gym class, or your input in a  group setting was ignored and overlooked. Think of the power and validation you found when you finally became visible. That feeling is what AfA is about!

When a youth like Manuel writes a poem about success, he isn’t just responding to a prompt. He is sharing a part of himself, a part which deserves to be seen, heard and respected. Whether through a workshop at school or on the streets for First Friday, AfA’s young artists demonstrate the power in finding your voice. At AfA, we remember what it feels like to be picked first, and we watch as youth experience that confirmation for the first time.

But it takes a team, a group to stand together and listen, to acknowledge, empower and show our youth that someone is on their team. If we are going to continue to create space for youth, we need you. Donating money for us to buy notebooks, bring in a guest speaker or fund a workshop is an investment in our youth and the importance of their voice. It shows them that someone is on their team. And as many of us can remember from school or gym class, there is no better feeling.

Our youth have shared a part of themselves with their community, and with you as our supporters and donors. Give back this holiday season, and let them know they are being heard.

If you want to make a real and tangible impact in the lives of Denver youth today, here are some ways you can show our youth how much you believe in them:

  • A one-time gift of $2,000 will support a year’s worth of weekly 2-hour workshops for a struggling young person.
  • A one-time gift of $5,000 will provide the cost of an 8-workshop program for 20 youth ($15/hr. per young person), which would include operating costs as well as program expenses.
  • 12 monthly donations of $100 or a one-time gift of $1,400 provides one-month’s rent (ooh, if 12 people did that…)
  • A one-time gift of $250 allows us to publish the youth poems from one 8-week session.
  • A one-time gift of $100 buys writing materials for two workshops.
  • A one-time donation of $50 allows us to bring a guest poet/artist to one workshop to inspire and encourage the youth in our programs.

Savannah-18

Savannah3-minute poem by Savannah Arterburn

I get that you just want to impress
and not admit that you’re a mess.
I know ‘cause I can see the tears your soul disappears.
Beauty’s pain and beauty’s in everything
but we are just here to learn—
don’t forget to breathe.
If need be lean on me
and don’t forget what makes you, you.
It’s crazy but you don’t have to know exactly who you are
your friends will help with that part.
Feeling unnoticed is how you go
and it hurts ‘cause we all know.
You’re not alone with all your pain
forget the world just whip it all away.
You deserve it ‘cause it’s not about the surface
yes, you’re still perfect and always worth it.
So let me be your mirror so you can see a little clearer.
‘Cause you’re beautiful and you don’t even know.

Chantel – MHYC

PencilPaperPeople take one look at me
And mug me or say something smart
They judge me off of my exterior
Not knowing who I am
And what I’m really about
After getting to know me
I become someone
They will never want to let go

I want to know where I am going to take my children
And how we will get there
I want to know why there are so many
Sick twisted funkin’ nasty ass people
Who hurt others
I want to know why parents bail on their children
I want to know why God hasn’t allowed me to be taken
The many times I could have been
I want to know why I never got to know my father
And why he even left

I am ME!
I am Chantel
I don’t give a fuck about all the he says she say bullshit
Because I am not only a wonderful mother
But I am an awesome parent
I am the future for my children and their children
I am who I want to be
I will not let my past define me
Because I no longer live there
I am here today and will do the best
And give better to my children

Manuel Perez – Age 17

Synesthesia

expressionLove is the red flames of a burning fire
Intensifying as time goes on
Love is the sound of a bird chirping in the rise of a morning
Awakening to a new reality
Inviting you to experience something new
Love is the smell of roses
Subtle yet strong and powerful enough to brighten your day after smelling
Love tastes like an apple
It can sometimes be bitter, but usually sweet
It is an essential nutrient to life
Love feels like a warm hug
It fills you with happiness to the touch
Love moves like the blood through the veins in your body
Fueling every part of you and pushing you through life

 

What is Success?

What is success?
Is it the big mansion and the shiny sports cars?
Is it the millions in the bank and the shirt and tie?
Or is it finding yourself?
Is it reaching a goal that you long struggled for?
Is it doing what you want without caring about what others will say?
Breaking the barrier of society that wants you to
Walk a fine line without stepping out.
A line set by the followers and not the leaders.
Success is being the owner of your thoughts and values
Which you guard with your sharp sword,
Without letting society push you to fit in.

Youngest Youth Poet

by Noa Stroop, volunteer

ChristianOn a warm Tuesday afternoon, Christian sat taping his knuckles for boxing practice. At 11 years old, he likes playing football, walking around the neighborhood, and playing computer games. And like many boys his age, Christian just wasn’t big on poetry.
After hearing how much fun the art of expression was from buzz at school, Christian, always open-minded, started attending Art from Ashes workshops in November of 2015. What he was looking for was undetermined, but what he found was connection. He walked in the door and immediately began making friends, some of whom attended his school, unbeknownst to him at the time. He began using pen and paper to understand the value of expression, explaining “It help get rid of the bad vibes!” And according to his mom, the workshops also improved his social skills tremendously.
But the most significant of the values Christian has learned from AfA is, as he explains, “All kids’ lives are different, but we are all raw equals.” That’s a pretty perceptive statement for an 11-year-old. Or anyone, for that matter!
Not only has AfA inspired a new appreciation for fine arts in the young athlete, these workshops have opened Christian’s eyes to a concept that youth and adults seem to struggle with: We are all human. We are all different. Yet, we have more in common than we know.

Manila Aityahia

3-Minute Poem by Manila, 15

Raindrops trickle
down the page
Flowing, falling slowly
Like brush strokes
As the sky changes color
So does my piece
A vibrancy of color
Dark then light
With a long trunk, I sketch
With big ears, I hear
The sounds I want to incorporate
Brush strokes, lines, pictures
They all come from memory
Transferred onto paper
Cool and concentrated
Flowing like a river
Blue
I work
Blue
I flow
Branches stretch
Touching different things
Taking those things
And messing them into one
I reach out, take what I desire
Branches swaying
I lose my leaves
Putting them out for the world
To see