All through the month of April, I had the honor of working (alongside a bunch of awesome volunteers) with 28 middle school students who had experienced severe bullying. They created powerful works of art in our You Will Rise Project workshop, and through their openness and bravery, transformed themselves and inspired the community.
Many of you made contributions to help us purchase art supplies, so I wanted to share with you the beautiful outcome. As one mother said to us at the popup exhibition, "Thank you for giving me my son back." He had been bullied so much that he had to drop out of school, and before attending this workshop, didn't want to leave his house. In the workshop he discovered a love of music and you can see him playing bass with some of his new friends in the video below.
We've been operating the You Will Rise Project website for seven years and leading workshops all throughout the time. The results are always moving and transformative. One of my goals for the next phase of our project is to work on documenting and sharing the ins and outs of this process so that it can be replicated in communities everywhere. Through art, young people can rise above their experiences with bullying. I did - thanks to my amazing art teacher (and YWR co-founder) - which is why it is important for me to pay it forward.
Here’s a short documentary about the recent workshop series, which was held at Palenke Arts in Seaside, California. Thank you to film students Nathan King, Stuart Graham, Zharia White, Braelen Washington, and Christian Preciado for all your hard work on this.