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
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
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
"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: www.killingtonartsguild.org for
the column email@example.com