¡Acción! Community Theater (ACT!) youth utilize theater as a means to address
some of the most critical issues facing them. ACT! teaches collaboration, time management, communication, and encourages creativity and problem solving—skills essential to life beyond the stage. ACT! youth train with a Theater Resident Artist to cultivate skills as actors and further use those skills to address issues that are important to them and their community. These youth take on leadership roles in advocacy and community-organizing projects, to advocate for more arts in schools or to bring more resources to our community, known as Boston’s Latin Quarter. With the critical thinking and public speaking skills youth hone through their theater training, youth are then prepared to be at the forefront of change, meeting with local legislators and imagining solutions to the challenges they face. By writing and performing their own original work, and learning from the works of established playwrights, ACT! teens use theater to bring hundreds of children, teens, and adults in the community together to create a vision for a safe and vibrant neighborhood.
Musicians in Community (MIC) grew out of our community’s rich musical traditions
and need for increased music education. MIC youth build confidence and personal-management skills as they learn to play, perform, and teach all forms of music—with a special focus on Afro-Latin percussion. After intensive training in order to improve their artistic mastery, MIC teens bring performances and free educational workshops to hundreds of community members a year. HSTF believes that music is essential to a vibrant community. MIC music ensembles bring high-quality Afro-Latin music performances to all corners of the city and introduce thousands of people to the rich culture and traditions of the Latino community.
Ritmo en Acción (REA) was started by a Hyde Square Task Force youth leader after
she saw a lack of culturally relevant dance programming in the community. REA engages close to 40 teens in Afro-Latin dance each year. Teens learn contemporary and classic Afro-Latin dance, lead dance workshops with community members of all ages, and advocate for dance classes in public schools. Teens become more physically active and more artistically expressive. At the same time, they build self-confidence and perseverance, connect with their cultures, and develop leadership skills. Each year, REA teens reach thousands of audience members through their public performances and educational activities in the community. Additionally, they engage people from all backgrounds and act as ambassadors to promote the richness of Latino culture. REA is a model for engaging urban teens through culturally-relevant art forms. In addition, many REA alumni start Latin dance groups on their college campuses and in their community.
Youth Community Organizers learn to advocate for themselves, their schools, and their communities. Youth develop leadership and organizing skills, engage in social justice through organizing campaigns that achieve concrete victories, and make change. They participate in intensive training, and investigate pressing social and political issues while developing critical thinking, communication, and organizing skills.
Youth and adults work in tandem to identify a problem that affects teens’ lives. They research the issue locally and nationally, develop a non-biased survey with professionals, and administer the survey to teens to gauge the severity of the problem and interest in the issue.
Youth then develop clear, understandable, and attainable campaign goals and a strategy map with campaign tactics, actions, and timetable. They learn how to create power analyses and work on high quality, multimedia presentation materials. They present the plan to potential allies, seek written support, and spread their message widely to ensure a broad base of support for campaign actions.
Youth participate in press conferences and legislative hearings, and in the past have mobilized as many as 500 supporters for a single campaign event. They learn to utilize media including radio, TV, newspaper, magazines, blogs, and more. Further, they engage in quiet lobbying with power-brokers. When appropriate, they negotiate or make changes to the campaign. Youth make sure that laws and policies are changed and guide the implementation process to ensure promises are kept. After the campaign, they monitor the changes to ensure that individuals and bureaucracies are held accountable.