|Program:||City at Peace-Charlotte, Charlotte, NC|
|Contact(s):||Nikkeia Kerr, Executive/Program Director: (704) 535-0655|
|Purpose:|| To engage a diverse group of young people in sharing their stories of the conflicts and pressures they face, and to collaborate in the pursuit of peaceful, creative solutions to these issues through awareness, arts and action |
City at Peace-Charlotte was incorporated in the spring of 1998 to address issues affecting youth growing up in Charlotte's ever-growing and diversifying community. The program models itself after the process used by the City at Peace program based in Washington, D.C., designed by Director Paul Griffin and a youth production team. (City at Peace has been identified by the President's Initiative on Race as a Promising Practice.)
Annually, City at Peace-Charlotte brings together approximately 100 young people, ages 12 to 13, from various Charlotte-Mecklenburg communities. The young people represent diverse races, cultures, religious affiliations and socioeconomic backgrounds. The project is designed to provide the opportunity for these young people to develop positive interaction and mutual respect among themselves. The young people take part in weekly workshops and discussion groups that explore such issues as race, self-esteem, violence and peer pressure. Conflict resolution and negotiation skills are emphasized as teens work toward reducing the incidence of racial and cultural misunderstanding at home, school and in their community. Out of this work they create, write and perform an original full-length musical based on their personal lives and activities in City at Peace-Charlotte. After the premiere production of this work, the cast tours schools, conferences and other events holding workshops on youth-related issues. The year ends with the cast engaging in a community-service activity enabling them to be advocates for social change. A youth production team, with the artistic director and program director, leads the entire process by designing rehearsals, counseling peers and assisting in production work. The structure of the youth production team encourages young people to be fully responsible for and committed to the project. A choreographer, musical director and an assembly of speakers, facilitators and other professionals with youth-serving agencies also help to train and inform the youth involved.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
In its pilot stage in 1996, City at Peace-Charlotte joined other groups to perform for the Children's Annual Defense Fund Conference held in Charlotte. At this conference, City at Peace participants also conducted a panel discussion on youth concerns with over 2000 conference attendees. Through their workshops and other appearances, City at Peace-Charlotte participants have shared their message with thousands of individuals.
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