Tragic events in the news this summer have reminded Americans about the dangers of gun violence. The epidemic, according to our Summer Youth, is a reminder of the trauma that has affected far too many American families, including here in NYC.
That's why our SYEP (Summer Youth Employment Program) participants who were hosted at Street Corner Resources of Harlem have developed a performance that they hope will spread a message of "Love, Peace, Safety, Awareness and Acceptance." Because our government has not succeeded in curbing deadly shootings with adequate policy reform, the group decided to use their melange of performance skills - a combination of acting, dance, song, spoken word and rap - to create a piece that focuses on personal choices including whether gun ownership is worth the serious risk that comes along with fatalities from homicides, suicides and accidental death.
The ensemble discussed how their SYEP experience taught them that they could use their summers to gain new skills and passions while also inspiring communities affected by violence to bond together. One participant, Nahshon added "This is my first opportunity acting, but it now feels like a passion for me. And now I realize that everybody's going through their own situations and traumas, but we're not alone."
This SYEP group is only a small portion of Roads to Success Summer Youth, 550 of whom we have placed in paid summer jobs, internships and training programs in fields such as the arts, law, criminal justice, fashion, culinary, retail, education and much more. The program has been made possible by successful fundraising efforts by Roads to Success supporters, all of our SYEP work site partners and the Department of Youth and Community Development.
The ensemble aims to take their piece to local theaters and school assemblies to inspire people of all ages to be conscious and make safe choices when it comes to gun violence, police brutality, bullying, honoring the elderly and more. This August, they had their first performance at PS 166 in Manhattan.