Between July 31 and Sept. 4, 19 youth ranging in age from 11-17 met each Thursday at Rainier Beach Community Center to plan a community concert at Othello Park. The concert took place on Saturday, Sept. 6. The Othello Youth Concert was one program among many selected by Mayor Ed Murray’s office to address community concerns about public safety.
Seattle Parks and Recreation program staff designed the program to meet essential youth developmental needs as well as to provide each participant with job-readiness skills and leadership development opportunities. While staff co-facilitated meetings and provided support, the youth participants made decisions about each facet of the concert’s design, including its themes of multi-culturalism and audience participation. The youth were also responsible for promoting the concert, keeping its costs within their allotted budget and acting as emcees, stage managers, barbecue cooks, basketball coaches and performers on the day of the event.
Participants enjoyed celebrating after the concert and staff praised their efforts. Staff were proud of the participants for making difficult decisions about the concert performance lineup and food plan.
Because attendance remained consistent throughout the program, all participants were able to learn planning and organizing skills, practice team-building and communication and recruit their family, neighbors and peers to support their hard work. They translated this experience into a resume entry that they will be able to use in the future.
Participants also shared feedback through conversation and surveys. Many comments revealed how their experiences were challenging and beneficial. For example, participants were challenged to communicate with people at different age levels and therefore were able to meet a new community of peers.
One participant commented that the program improved her self-confidence. “I felt really happy that I had actually planned a concert for the public — I felt proud of myself,” she wrote.
Participants received a stipend at the end of the program as part of their learning experience.