School has never been a bastion of creative expression for students. In this age of testing and huge curricular requirements, teachers have fewer opportunities to offer their students to say what they want and have their voices heard in meaningful ways. Some teens take to the internet and open themselves up to the cruelty of trolls – some of whom are their peers. Others turn to private writing that can move them to introspection or to feeling more isolated and hopeless.
How can at-risk youth speak out? One brave artist, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo has taken on the challenge of giving at-risk youth the opportunity to speak out. One school at a time and one student at a time, she is listening and bringing the salvation of the arts to teens. From her website, http://nevercountedout.com/
Welcome To The Creative Revolution!
We want … to rock … the world of at-risk youth!
Never Counted Out is a movement in the making dedicated to empowering at-risk youth through writing and the arts.
We believe art saves, and youth on the fringe are forever changed by engaging with professional artists.
Inspired by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo’s unconventional Fat Angie book tour (documented in the film At-Risk Summer), NCO continues her mission by bridging the gap between artists and at-risk youth in their community or communities they travel to.
We are emerging —with a fire—to inspire the kids who are often counted out!”
This is the kind of revolution that teens need and is literally life saving. Here is the inspiration from the website describing the goals of the project, “If Someone Only Knew.”
On March 3, 2015, sixteen-year-old transgender youth, Ash Haffner, committed suicide. A victim of bullying, Ash left this note:
“Please be WHO YOU ARE…Do it for yourself. Do it for your happiness. That’s what matters in YOUR life. You don’t need approval on who you are. Don’t let people or society change who you are just because they’re not satisfied with your image.”
Can you be who you are?
What is stopping you from being yourself “for your happiness”?
What’s your truth?
What story do you have to tell?
Does your truth or story make you feel alone?
In honor of Ash Haffner’s challenge, we ask you to tell your truth. Be heard. Be seen. Stop feeling alone. Write an essay or create a piece of art that answers this sentence:
If someone only knew…
In defiance of Ash’s choice of suicide, we want you to publish your story with Never Counted Out and never as a suicide note.
Suicide is never the answer.
Suicide does not make you look strong or show others how badly you feel.
Suicide doesn’t offer second chances.
Writing Truth can be your answer.
Because Words and Art are Power.
Because Words and Art offer Second Chances.
Could you words inspire others to be who they are?
A selection of writing, art, photo, slam, and film submissions will be published to the Never Counted Out blog. There will be a place for people to comment with ideas, resources and support. This section will be moderated to exclude unhelpful or hateful comments.
Select essays and art will be published anonymously in 2016 in a paperback anthology entitled If Someone Only Knew…
Everything about this project is important and powerful.
Empower teens. Point them to this project. Visit the website and point your local high schools and middle schools to this amazing opportunity.
Here’s the video trailer of the film. Watch it. Share it.
Speak to the teens. Listen when they answer.