The Mountain Times

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What the Teen Ensemble taught us

People asked me after the SafeArt performance at the Killington Arts Guild Annual meeting, "What was it like meeting the Teen Ensemble face to face?" These were young people who had been abused, criticized for being different, hurt physically and emotionally over and over again. They are using art to recover and to find a new life.

How had they found the courage to talk about things that people don't talk about? Was it easier to do that in front of other teenagers who might have had the same experiences rather than adults like the KAG members who might never speak out about such events, especially if they involved other family members.

The art seemed to make it easier for the Teens. They used poetry and let the refrain carry the grief, in dance it was expressed in movement, in music through sound. At first it seemed so simple but more and more as the audience was drawn in, we began to understand and experience the pain-though it was not always their own.

It was very effective when the ensemble all stood in a row. Each one gave a statement representing the group. "Seven of us have used drugs,"  "six of us have been abused,"  "three of us raped," "all of us have been betrayed," "all of us believe in social change."

By telling their stories they heal, they prevent things from happening, encourage intervention and proactive behavior on the part of others.

Lauren is a member of the Guild; she is one of us. She stood with the teens and read from their book "On Our Way, An Anthology of SafeArt Writing 2000-2010." She wholeheartedly supports SafeArt.

What could we do at that moment was simply to praise them for their courage and their work. They smiled back, faces glowing. It made me think, in my own life, how easy it is to criticize and how much more important it is to praise.

I am sure Poetry from this book will be read at the Killington Arts Guild Gathering of Poets at the Sherburne Library on April 16 at 7-8:30 p.m. and perhaps also at Open Mike, Church of the Wildwood in Chittenden on Friday April 14. This is what we can do to spread the message about the courage of these young people.

"How she really feels, like she is about to break, but now like a new person she begins to take flight." - a 17 year old girl from "On Our Way."

"On Our Way" is available for a $20 donation to SafeArt

For information about the Guild: for the column

Tagged: Killington Arts Guild, KAG