Youth Voice thru the Spoken Word
This summer Garfield County PREP teens were given the opportunity to create original drug PSA’s with the intention of presenting at a youth open mic night in a local community. Some of the teens chose to create videos to deliver their drug prevention message. Josefina Venegas of Rifle, CO opted to write poetry from the heart and delivered her work in the spoken word format. While her poetry does not follow a rhyming or lyrical structure, there’s a reason she writes the way she does. She wants to tell her story, and she wants you to listen.
When you see someone who is maybe in their teen years, comes from a different country, speaks a different language, has skin of a darker shade than you, don’t dismiss them as having nothing to offer. If they’re acting out or experimenting with drugs or other risky behaviors, step back and ask yourself, ‘what pain or struggle is this person attempting to escape, make numb or just make go away altogether?’ If you see someone in an unhealthy relationship, don’t pass judgment by asking, ‘why don’t they just leave?’ Instead you might try asking yourself, ‘what is it that makes it seem impossible for them to leave?’ What toxins are clouding their vision to the point they see no way out?
Josefina’s story as told through her heartfelt poetry reminds us that we all come from somewhere. We all have our experiences, and they are real. Take time in this busy world to consider the plight of others and show empathy in their struggles. Despite our histories, our origins, our outward expressions, we all have something to offer and a reason to be. We can experience hardship and come out the other side stronger, more resilient and with a greater appreciation of what we have to lose.
This bright, funny and talented young lady has traveled a bumpy road, to say the least. Think about how her story, her experience can be of service to others. What can we learn from her when we listen to the poetry that she delivers from the heart? What can she teach other young children from similar backgrounds about resiliency, grit and hope for the future? She’s likely to help others like her a lot more than the privilege bestowed on this white gringa ever could. We just need to take the time to listen; to give youth a voice. We can do that by creating safe places for young people to express themselves freely with the realization that their lives have value. They have value, and they can be an incredible resource where a higher education and privilege can not.