Youth Empowerment through the Arts
The Power of Hope unleashes the positive potential of youth through arts-centered, multicultural learning programmes. A non-religious, non-profit organisation, it offers young people multi-day workshops and courses in the summer break and during the school year.
The programmes are aimed at 14 to 18 year olds but they also run professional development courses for youth workers, artists, teachers and other adults. The schemes have been running in America, Canada and Uganda since 1996 but LIFEbeat, inspired by its US parent, is now running summer programmes for young people in the UK too.
By acknowledging the creative potential of young people, rather than treating them as problems’ that need solving, Power of Hope founders Charlie Murphy and Peggy Taylor have witnessed remarkable transformations in the youngsters that have been part of the schemes, from feelings of hopelessness, anger and self-destruction, to positions of leadership, confidence, hope and empowerment.
The staff range from 20 to 60 years of age but Charlie is very clear on their role. ‘They all have responsibilities but they are not babysitters. They too are finding their creative edge! The focus is to form a community where expression is the currency of connection.’
Charlie’s previous experience as a recording artist and director of training for the YMCA Earth Service Corps ñ participating in youth programmes all over the world ñ culminated in a vision: a programme that would bring a diverse group of young people together and provide opportunities where it would be safe to cross the lines of difference. ‘It’s exciting to be in a community where a young person, who has never written a song or a poem, for example, writes about something that they really care about, stands up in front of people and takes a big creative risk to share it.’
Charlie hopes to create a team of international social artists who empower their peers and other youth led organisations. ‘One of the great joys for me personally,’ he says, ‘is connecting with young adults who have felt called to this work and want to develop them-selves into increasingly effective social artists. We can become creators of the culture we want and not just consumers of the culture we have.’
LIFEbeat’s summer programmes will run form 3rd-10th August and
16th-24th August 2008 at Stanford Hall in Leicestershire
Above: Co-founder Charlie Murphy
Below: Power of Hope participants
Photo: © Power of Hope