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 DHS News August 2013     

Summit Reaches Out to Youth Through Poetry and Music 

Members of the Department of Human Services Executive Office, Human Services Administration Organization, and System Improvement Through Youth (S.I.T.Y. – the DHS youth advisory body) came together recently to organize the fourth Youth Summit. Seventy-five young people participated on July 10 in the summit, at the Rose Barn in North Park.

Summit participants included youth who are involved with a variety of youth-serving systems within the Department of Human Services including child welfare, mental health, and independent living, among others. Youth served by AC Juvenile Probation also participated.

The summit featured workshops facilitated by Rhyme Calisthenics, an outreach initiative that uses hip-hop to deliver positive messages to youth. The goal of this year’s summit was to have fun while engaging youth in critical thinking, storytelling, self-empowerment and self-expression. Duane Berry, Youth Support Engagement Specialist with the Independent Living Initiative, said the summit went smoothly and youth appeared to be engaged with the format. The hip-hop medium worked well with the youth. Facilitators, which included DHS Youth Support Partners, encouraged participants to complete the statement “I Am…” in their own performances. This was done through song and poetry.

“I thought it would be great to use something interactive rather than to lecture. The kids gravitated to it. This was their language,” Duane said. “With the hip-hop medium there’s a lot of communication: ‘What’s going on? How are you really feeling about yourself and your possibilities in life?’”

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