Youth Speaks brings on a new leader

Mar 5, 2018

 

if you’ve ever been to a Youth Speaks poetry slam here in the Bay Area, you know young people have a lot to say.

Youth Speaks is an international organization with more than 200,000 participants. It’s dedicated to literacy through spoken-word poetry. These poets have shined a light on mental illness, explained food insecurity and immigration, and navigated the twisting paths between religions and historical moments.

The organization has grown rapidly since it was founded back in 1996 in San Francisco. Now it has a new Executive Director, Cristy Johnston Limón. She took over from the group's founder, James Kass, last month. Cristy was born and raised in San Francisco's Mission District and earned degrees at UC Berkeley. She worked in politics and most recently led a renaissance for Destiny Arts in Oakland.

 

Earlier this year Youth Speaks launched one of its most ambitous projects yet: a video program called The Bigger Picture. The project uses youth voices to fight the epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes, which has reached epidemic proportions in young people.  Cristy Johnston Limón sat down with KALW's Ben Trefny.

 

"We know that when we have the arts in the classroom, these programs in the schools, these young people's pathways are changed invariably. They're able to make better decisions, think critically, and feel like someone cares about them. And that makes the biggest difference in a young person's life."

Click the audio player to listen to the full interview above