I can’t lie. I was nervous about having 11 days to coach 10 kids into creating a book full of professional-grade photographs and an in-depth story profiling a significant moment in their lives.
But as I began to put together the layouts for each spread, filling in the spaces with their pictures and with the stories they’d written, I was amazed at what they were able to create.
Leah, a young mom of a precious baby girl, discovered an outlet for her creative spirit. She soaked up every lesson about leading lines and composition, and came back to her coaches with photographs that revealed incredible talent.
Sheyenne, quiet and somber, found and announced an incredible strength she’d never even recognized in herself until she put the words on paper.
De’Shawn explored what it means to be a father despite growing up without one. As I sent the Fellows off to begin writing, he nestled himself in a room and wrote and wrote until the day ended.
Paola was silent and painfully shy until the day we gave her a camera and sent her off to capture the world as she saw it outside. She brought back pictures and couldn’t stop smiling and telling us what she saw, why she took that picture from that angle, and how she loved the movement in another picture.
The proof is tangible: what we give to kids, we will get. When we give them outlets for creativity, high expectations to rise to and the tools they need to do so, they will do whatever you ask of them – and then some.
Young people – of all backgrounds, of all income levels, of all ethnicities and races, of all beliefs, of all experiences – can do anything.
At Together Tulsa, we believe that we can give at-risk and underserved teenagers the tools and resources they need to be successful in the 21st century workforce. The premise on which we operate is proven. Time and time again, there have been examples of schools, organizations, and communities demanding excellence of their youth. And time and time again, those kids have met the demand.
Human beings are inherently innovative, driven, determined. It is up to the adults in a child’s life to provide opportunities for those traits to be cultivated, developed and channeled into things that benefit them, their progeny and the wider community.
We live in a symbiotic relationship with everyone in our community. We depend on our kids to inherit, care for and better the society we’ve created; but our kids depend on us to teach them, guide them, and support them as they learn how to do what we ask of them.
We’re excited and we are honored to be an organization that facilitates the coming together of our community in support of our teenagers who get left out, who are forgotten, or whose stories have been unfairly written for them.
We can’t wait to show you how strong the voices of our youth are when you give the pen back to them. We know you will be amazed.