One of Seattle Parks and Recreation’s goals is to welcome opportunities to play, learn contemplate and build communities, and for that reason, we believe in empowering our youth. Our Youth Engaged in Service (YES) Program is a job readiness and leadership development program that places Seattle-based teens in a broad range of service and training opportunities to prepare them for the working world while addressing community needs.
This fall, in partnership with School’s Out Washington, one of the YES Program’s service projects is called Racial Equity Project-Seattle (REP-SEA). Students working on this project have spent the last two months learning how to facilitate discussions on race.
On Wednesday, Dec. 3, Seattle Parks REP-SEA and other teens gathered at Miller Community Center for a workshop led by a Youth Speaks spoken word poetry artist Angel Langley to practice their creativity while exploring topics like identity and how it interacts with racism and navigating systems.
Youth Speaks Seattle has been a leading organization for youth spoken word poetry for more than 10 years. In 2011, the nonprofit joined forces with Arts Corps.
“We try to find ways for our teens to explore the topic of racial equity in unique ways,” said Seattle Parks teen leader Katrina Go. “This workshop is a fun, expressive way to examine this topic.”
During the workshop the teens discussed how their families’ economic status affected their experiences at school and were led through a number of free writes.
“REP-SEA’s members carry a lot of wisdom with them already, and they have a strong connection to the Seattle and King County communities since they have grown up here,” Go said. “It’s pretty amazing to see them realize more and more that this is such an asset to positively affect the community and other young people. Though our focus is racial equity, we have been lucky to reach out to other folks in the community doing amazing social justice work. The Youth Speaks workshop that Angel provided was just that. Written expression is a powerful tool to work through the complexities of race and power. “