TWAAP Interducing Teens to the Arts

1f6472_b391ce8b4e1a4164a534753997e99736Non-profit organization, Teen Writers and Artists Project or TWAAP is an organization focused on helping and mentoring teens that are involved in the arts. Whether the teenagers are interested in writing, spoken word, visual art, music, or theater, the project helps to create an environment for growth and self-expression. The group holds many events from wordplay (a spoken word event) or their annual sock hop or dance marathon.  The Execute Assistant at Teen Writers and Artists Program Shayne Phillips has been involved in the arts for around six years. TWAAP was the main project that helped introduce and help her get involved in the arts while she was in high school. She is currently attending University of Illinois to get her bachelors degree, but is still heavily involved in the program.

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Bennorth Photography 

What makes this project different? What makes it important?

The importance of this project is partially because of its location in the suburbs and the reach that we are striving for across the Chicagoland area. There are organizations serving youth with the arts in Chicago, but there is a need for sensitivity and a somewhat different cultural approach when teaching in the suburbs. The demographics in the suburbs vary just as widely as within the city, and youth across the board need a platform in which they can develop their voices and be heard by a greater community.

What type of environment are you trying to create through the program? Why is this so important?

This is also part of our mission, but we want to create a safe space for young people to be free to express themselves so that they can help create a better world to live in.

People often say that the youth are the key to the future, and we strongly believe that. If we want the world to be better in the future, we need to figure out what our youth want and what they need, and we need to help put the power in their hands and give them the resources and guidance to do so.

What other events or programs have inspired this program?

Young Chicago Authors and Louder Than A Bomb have been a guiding inspiration in our program, as well as some other nonprofit structures such as 826 Valencia and YouthSpeaks.

And what are some of the main programs that TWAAP host or present?

We have a weekly event modeled after Chicago’s “Wordplay,” that happens in three different cities in the suburbs. These events consist of a writing workshop, an open mic, and a featured poet or artist. We also have our biggest event of the year coming up in January, Slammin’ the Sun Down, which is the far west suburban regional poetry slam for Louder Than A Bomb.

What has made this project successful?

Our organization relies heavily on community support. We would not be able to continue without the youth who attend our events and the community members who act as mentors and participants as well. We have a very small staff, but we do our best to keep up with promotion both on social media as well as direct networking. We also spend a lot of time with promotions and publicity. Our events are the base of our organization.

Any recent events happened or happening in the near future that you can tell me about?

We have a weekly event modeled after Chicago’s “Wordplay,” that happens in three different cities in the suburbs. These events consist of a writing workshop, an open mic, and a featured poet or artist. We also have our biggest event of the year coming up in January, Slammin’ the Sun Down, which is the far west suburban regional poetry slam for Louder Than A Bomb.

 

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