Teens with a Purpose: Creating Future Leaders Through Arts and Activism
Words by Moriah Joy. Image courtesy of Teens with a Purpose.
During February and early March of this year, I had the pleasure of working with slam poet and Teens with a Purpose volunteer, Testimony, so named because he believes that his artistic creations, whether it’s poetry or music, should be a testament to his life with a desire for honest story telling. During the process of Do You Know Me? he offered us different exercises to help create poems for the piece as well as inspire us to tell our stories in unique ways. Through this process he also talked a little bit about his work with Teens with a Purpose and I was intrigued.
For those unfamiliar with Teens with a Purpose, it is a peer led non-profit organization that allows for youth to facilitate their interests in a safe space along with other teens who also may have an interest in those same activities. Some of these activities include music, poetry, theatre, activism/politics, and community gardening. The beauty of it is that the adults who volunteer facilitate as needed and allow for the students to work on their leadership skills in a meaningful way.
When asked about an inspiring moment during his involvement with Teens with a Purpose, Testimony mentioned that he has enjoyed being able to watch the growth of the students. One in particular has been involved since he was around 12 years old, and initially didn’t have any specific interests. Now, he’s an 18 year old young man who is still very dedicated to his art while supporting himself.
The organization hosts different community events such as marches and slam poetry events. Testimony explained that he found his love for slam poetry as a teen while being involved in Teens with a Purpose. His mother has been active in the organization since the beginning and would often bring Testimony with her to the meetings. At one of their meetings they hosted slam poet Dante Franks, from Ohio, who introduced them to Brave New Voices. Brave New Voices is a national slam poetry competition specifically for teenagers, and during Dante’s visit he helped them organize a team for the event. Ever since that moment, Testimony has been involved in Brave New Voices by either participating or encouraging other students as they foster their poems.
Their next event will be on April 17th at the Renaissance Academy in Virginia Beach, and will be an in-person and virtual event. “It’s kinda like the season finale,” Testimony said when describing the event, which will have performances from students who workshopped their pieces throughout the year, and a DJ. They will also announce the winner of the Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate who will represent the area as a Youth Ambassador.
For more information make sure to follow Teens with a Purpose on Instagram @twpthemovement and check out their website at https://www.twp-themovement.org/.