Yosef Meystel knows that Art has always worked as an outstanding tool to explore ourselves and communicate to others. It allows the body to flow and ideas to develop and evolve through the constant stimulation of the senses. Since ancient Greece art has been used to engrave our history using the most sublime expressions.
Nowadays, art is used as a tool to help teens get through the difficult times of adolescence. Different nonprofits in the Unites States use it to reach youths and teach them the value of self-expression and respect. The reason to this is that adolescents in the U.S. are among the most vulnerable populations. They always pop up in the suicide ratings, are victims of abuse, and lack the proper guidance to prevent teenage pregnancy. To all this, we should add up the fact that they must deal with the transition from being underage individuals to adults with a bunch of responsibilities.
In Kansas, there is a nonprofit dedicated to helping adolescents using arts to empower them. This organization is called Youth City Network, Inc. and it aims to cultivate and develop self-awareness and empowerment. Also, Youth City Network offers teens the chance of doing community service, have access to higher education, and self-expression activities for youths aged 11 to 18.
Youth City Network’s Mission
Youth City Networks aims to provide enriching opportunities to adolescents. Through arts -such as performing arts, inquiry-based fine arts, and critical thinking activities- the organization promotes healthy emotional and social development. The final goal is to guide teens by offering them peer counseling and the chance to interact with other teens and a staff willing to help them become a better version of themselves.
By emphasizing on creative expression and different types of arts (visual and performing arts), the organization’s mission is to offer teens the chance to learn artistic skills so they can use poetry, speech, debate, creative literacy, and rapping as tools to develop their creative thinking and embrace their personalities and life experiences. Throughout this process, teens participate in team building activities, field trips, and community service initiatives.
Most of the youths who are active members of Youth City Network come from broken homes. Some live in shelters, others come from low-income housing and most of the apply for the free lunch program. These teens have had a rough time in life and deserve to have the chance to develop themselves in a safe environment.
The organization knows that they lack the power to control what happens to all teens in Kansas and the Midwest, but it also knows that opening spaces for teens to express their ideas and share with other teens who come from a similar background is a way to help them grow into better adults and community leaders.
Currently, the program serves over 125 teenagers and their families. Some of these teens have taken major steps to become better students and helping more at their homes. Each of these adolescents has shown how proud it is to be part of the organization and how important it is to keep cultivating social programs for other teens.
Resources and Successes:
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Youth City Network only counts with charitable donations and volunteer work to exist. Their job is to assist teens in order to prevent youth crime and teen pregnancy while the dropout rates lower.
The major support of Youth City Network comes from local partner and churches in Kansas. These organizations assist the youth every month by participating in the activities they promote. Also, the entire nonprofit’s initiatives are supported by volunteer work. This means that volunteers are the ones who prepare lessons for students, work as mentors for them and are constantly in the look for support and resources for the organization.
The key to the success of the organization is not only based on it volunteers and generous donors. It comes from the dedication of those who belong to the nonprofit. The Youth City Network has been awarded several times thanks to its commitment to teens and the community. Regardless the race, background or religion, the organization always works hard to offer students new and creative ways to develop themselves through art.
KC Teen Mic and the 4 C’s
Youth City Network, Inc. has a philosophy based on four C’s that include Critical Thinking, Culture, Communication, and Creativity. This philosophy has moved different community artists and leaders to give their time to the organization and opening spaces to inspire students.
Based on the four C’s the organization has opened a monthly space for teens to share their talents and progress with other teens and their families. This space is called the KC Teen Mic and allows kids from the KC metro area to expose what they know. This event aims to engage other teens in dynamic activities and discussions which can help them develop their self-esteem and engage with community topics.
The final goal of this type of events and the organization’s philosophy is to create awareness in a fun and engaging way.