Children: Let Them Amaze You
What They See. What They Say.
“Out of the mouth of babes” is an old Biblical expression that we adults place with a phenomenal slant - like it’s rare to hear something profound coming from a young person - but perhaps we consider it to be rare because we adults rarely listen to our youth.
Thankfully, James Kass feels otherwise. In 1996 he started an organization called, Youth Speaks, which not only provides a platform for young people to raise their voices and say what’s really on their mind, but also gives adults the chance to listen and discover new ways to engage with the powerful energy that emanates from the minds and hearts of young people.
How does this work?
Founded in 1996 in San Francisco, Youth Speaks has long championed a local, national, and increasingly global movement of young people picking up pens and stepping proudly onto stages, declaring themselves present.
We believe that literacy is a need, not a want.
One of the world’s leading presenters of Spoken Word performance, education, and youth development programs, Youth Speaks produces local and national youth poetry slams, festivals, and reading series, alongside a comprehensive slate of arts-in-education programs during the school day, in the after-school hours and on weekends. In addition, we create internationally-recognized theater and digital programming, and have helped launch a national network of over 70 programs who believe in the power of young people.
Committed to a critical, youth-centered pedagogy, Youth Speaks places young people in control of their intellectual and artistic development. We are urgently driven by the belief that literacy is a need, not a want, and that literacy comes in various forms. As we move more deeply into the 21st Century, oral poetry is helping to define the new American Voice. By making the connection between poetry, spoken word, youth development and civic engagement, Youth Speaks aims to deconstruct dominant narratives in hopes of achieving a more inclusive, and active, culture. Believing that young people have the tools to take control of their lives through language, Youth Speaks encourages youth to express themselves using their own vernacular.
Through the intersection of arts education and youth development practices, civic engagement strategies, and high quality artistic presentation, Youth Speaks creates safe spaces that challenge young people to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices as creators of societal change.
Youth Speaks exists to shift the perceptions of youth by combating illiteracy, isolation, alienation, and silence, creating a global movement of brave new voices bringing the noise from the margins to the core.
Now is a great time to lend your support to this dynamic organization. Here’s how you can help.