Youth's Open Road
Believe that where you have come you have gotten there not necessarily on your own but that you've made it possible for yourself.
- Kirya Traber, Talia Taylor, Chinaka Hodge, and Lauren Whitehead are mentors at nonprofit Youth Speaks.
- Their goal is to empower young people to use their voices in whatever way they see fit, and to define their own destinies.
- Each of these leading presenters of the spoken word arts and education programs at Youth Speaks got there in their own unique ways.
- Kirya started writing when she was very young, but she'd grown up with a struggling artist mother, so she always wanted to find a "real job."
- Eventually she realized that the six years she'd spent writing poetry could transform into her real job.
- Lauren had to reconcile chasing what she loved-which was poetry-with meeting her family's expectations of her.
- She always struggled with whether or not her art was "legitimate" if she didn't have her MFA, or wasn't making a comfortable salary.
- Today, Lauren has confidence in her poetry, and she encourages all of her 16-year-old students to say, "I'm awesome, and nobody can tell me different."