“We often say we do not ‘give’ young people voices. Young people already have powerful voices and part of our work, through the arts, is to support the amplification of their voices, so they can continue to make long-lasting social change.”
Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE) is a grassroots community organization that amplifies the voices of youth for human rights change through the visual arts. ARTE provides access to an arts-based curriculum that creates an exploratory and safe space for students to better understand the pressing human rights issues that affect their communities through the intersection of art and activism (artivism).
As a Landecker Democracy Fellow, Marissa will focus on a specific project with ARTE called Youth Voices Lead (YVL). Pivoting to meet a COVID-19 world, ARTE’s Youth Voices Lead program is a paid, digital community and training program for 12+ youth organizers to strengthen their artistic tools and human rights knowledge to advocate for racial justice change. For around 10 weeks, these young leaders (ages 14-18) will bravely come together from diverse neighborhoods throughout New York City to learn about the important issues directly impacting their communities, including the right to housing, the right to health, the impact of mass incarceration, and the right to education.
The project goals of Youth Voices Lead are to develop the leadership and creativity of youth artivists by cultivating their artistic and activist skills. As the culminating project of the 10-week training, all program participants will be asked to produce and present a final digital workshop at a community training summit that will use artivism to inspire their fellow community members to take further action for racial justice.
Marissa believes that if young people are provided with the artistic tools, human rights education, and platform to come together, they will continue their activist journeys for racial justice and, in turn, be able to ignite concrete campaigns for social change within their own communities.
Youth Voices Lead was brainstormed during the beginning of the pandemic as a way to continue building youth leadership and activism at a time when young people across New York City felt disconnected from one another. While New York City is still transitioning into a post-pandemic world, Marissa believes that programs uniting young people from across the city are needed now more than ever. Through Youth Voices Lead, students will have an opportunity to meet with other young people in the city. By sharing about their own communities and the issues directly impacting them, Youth Voices Lead participants will strengthen their own sense of community as New Yorkers and young social justice activists in general, amplifying their voices for social change.
Updated December 2021.