Nate Howard, founder and executive director of Movement BE

Here to Lead, a statewide storytelling initiative, announced a partnership with San Diego-based nonprofit Movement BE to share poems from young men currently in juvenile hall. 

The original poems written by three young men of color, and performed by Movement BE artists Terrance Carter and Justice Freeman, demonstrate the urgency of transforming California’s youth justice system, organizers said.

“Everyone has a story,” said Nate Howard, founder and executive director of Movement BE. “California’s Black and Brown youth have been impacted by a punitive system designed to incarcerate, oppress, and subject them to life-long consequences. We’re fighting to change the narrative and empower our youth to tell their own stories.”

In To the World, Eliseo Araujo talks about his big dreams to travel the world and a drive for success. In Focus, Alex Garcia shares his determination to be a professional boxer one day and support himself through his passions, despite his challenges. In Success, Bryan Juan Escobedo highlights how the key to success is to believe in yourself.

“It’s time to listen to California’s youth,” said Sergio Cuellar, a program officer at The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, which provides some of the funding for the initiative. “Listen to their powerful poems about pursuing education, following their dreams, and finding success. We hope their voices shed new light on why California must invest in youth development and healing, not more punishment.”

Movement BE is a nonprofit dedicated to helping youth develop a growth mindset through creative storytelling, according to an announcement from the campaign.

Here to Lead is a storytelling initiative that celebrates the leadership, power, and voice of  multigenerational, AAPI, African American, Latinx, and Native American boys and men of color. The initiative is a project of the California Funders for Boys and Men of Color, managed by The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, in partnership with the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, organizers said.

More information can be found at HeretoLeadCA.org.

— City News Service contributed to this article

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