Voices of Youth is a core project through which Mosaic mentoring programs engage a wide variety of youth in diverse neighborhoods and schools. Through the Voices process, youth participate in the creation of artistic forums that include the distinct qualities of their immediate environment. They learn valuable ways to express the story of their lives while developing mentoring relationships within their own communities.
When young people aren't recognized for who they are, don't have their gifts acknowledged, and aren't invited to a meaningful life paths, they become angry and resentful. Having no clear direction for their life energies, youth tend to act out or collapse inward. Feeling unwelcome and disoriented, they can turn violent or fall into depression. Voices of Youth provides a creative outlet for the common themes of alienation and violence, disorientation and isolation, addiction and abuse that plague modern youth.
After the workshop process the youthful voices are presented to the local community in innovative public events that are partly theater, partly literature, and partly celebration. Feeling empowered and inspired, the youth offer surprising insights into the root causes of violence, cynicism, and apathy that plague students as well as youth living on the streets and in the margins of modern culture. A lively discussion with community members follows the presentation which concludes with a welcoming ceremony that celebrates of the courage and spirit of the youth.
Hearing the hidden passions, inner dreams, and acute perspectives of youth can significantly change perceptions within the community of both local problems and national issues. Voices projects quickly bridge the generation gaps that are characteristic of modern societies and empower local youth to participate in cross-generational dialogues. Outcomes often include the development of a new mentoring organization attuned to the needs of the local community.
In the old way of seeing, culture is continuously remade through the visions of youth and the dreams of the elders. Thus, Voices of Youth involves a rediscovery of mythology, an elucidation of psychology and an array of arts and practices that range from making poems to meditation. Working with youth, making mentors, and finding elders becomes a path of 'living philosophy' that winds through streets and schools and prisons with the aim of reinventing culture.
Voices of Youth projects and presentations have included thousands of young women and young men in more than a dozen states across the U.S. More than two dozen community-based mentoring organizations have developed as a result of local Voices projects and over sixty mentoring organizations have collaborated with Mosaic projects in their communities.
The ancient Greek word koures meant "youthful," referring to the vitality and innate imagination of young women and men, but also to the essential imagination that keeps the elders "young at heart." As the troubles of both culture and nature deepen around us, the sense of the eternal youth can become lost, leaving even young people older than they otherwise would be.
Amidst great uncertainty, with the fraying of the web of nature, and unraveling of the fabric of culture, a capacity for envisioning and an imagination for beginning again becomes essential. The Koures Symposium is a component in the Mosaic strategy for creating community-based projects that engage youth, mentors, and elders in the essential work of re-imagining culture and helping to regenerate nature.
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