| Program: || Voices United, Miami, FL |
| Contact(s): || Katie Christie, Director: (305) 274-1851 |
| Purpose: || To promote cross-cultural understanding through the arts and to empower young people to cultivate solutions to community problems and to promote inter-cultural appreciation and understanding |
Voices United, formerly Peace Child Miami, was created in 1989 by 17 year old Katie Christie, a high school senior at Miami's New World School of the Arts. Christie believed that young people of different races and cultures did not get along or respect each other's differences. She also believed that young people faced a multitude of problems without any way to address their concerns. To respond to these challenges, Christie created Voices United to give the young people in Miami a voice. Voices United, a nonprofit organization, empowers young people to cultivate solutions to community problems and to promote inter-cultural appreciation and understanding. Voices United also creates a forum in which young people can share their visions and concerns and use conflict resolution principles in their lives.
Each year, Voices United assembles a diverse cast of 150 young people ages four to 18, that represent students from over 60 Dade County elementary, middle and high schools. These young people participate in workshops and rehearsals from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday, from January until June. The young people go through an extensive process, driven by youth leadership, which culminates in an original musical theater production. The process begins with workshops that focus on team building, conflict resolution, communication, leadership, development of self-esteem, and racial, religious and cultural tolerance. The cast decides what message it wants to convey to its audiences, and then writes the script and the music for the production to reflect that message. At the end of the five-month rehearsal process, the cast gives three performances to the public in the Ashe Auditorium and a free performance at the Gusman Theater of Performing Arts for over 1,600 Dade County students. To continue sharing their message, cast members present workshops and performances at area schools.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
Since 1989, Voices United has included more than 1,000 young people and has reached an audience of more than 25,000 people. The project has inspired many young people to become leaders and program participants have gone on to create school-based clubs called "United Students," in six area high schools. Voices United also coordinates the "Leadership Forum," an annual two-week summer retreat that teaches leadership skills to young people.