YOUTH ARTS NEW YORK provides an arts-based approach to after-school and in-school programs that engage youth in social and environmental action.
Our primary focus at present is disarmament education. Our initiative is called Hibakusha Stories. Please visit its website to learn all about it.
Most recently Youth Arts New York provided programming 16 schools in all five boroughs of New York City in December, 2010, reaching approximately 1,800 students. We facilitated the visits of three survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima to tell their stories. We have begun arts-based responses in six schools. Our goal in this effort was to engage youth directly in contributing to global disarmament through the art they create.
In May of 2010 we sponsored the visits of 40 survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to 3,000 middle and high school students at 25 public schools in all five boroughs.
Through the ancient art of storytelling we endowed students with the legacy of that terrible chapter in human history so that they can help make certain that it is never forgotten and will never happen again. As our major benefactor Yoko Ono wrote to the hibakusha, as the survivors are called, “The work you do is so incredible – it is a gift, really, telling your stories and your experiences to the young, so they can see the reality of what you survived – the horrors of nuclear war. The students learn to take their places as guardians of your memory, what you call the Responsibility of Remembrance."
The initiative was an overwhelming success and changed the lives of everyone involved. Peggi Jaspe Lopez wrote, “I am 18 years old. I attend Flushing High School and pretty soon I shall attend John Jay College. To have such guest speakers attending Flushing High School has been an honor and a privilege. That is why I would like to thank them for coming and educating us with real life facts. It goes to show that no storm lasts forever and with each mistake we learn and are brought together. You guys have made a change in my life. That is why I say no to nuclear weapons. We as humans have strength in numbers. Lets not let history repeat itself.
Sergio Duarte, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations remarked at the Hibakusha Stories Reception and Concert on 3 May 2010, “I very much welcome the contribution that Hibakusha Stories is making to this global common effort [towards nuclear disarmament]. This is truly an enlightened initiative and I am proud to recognize it this evening at the UN, where it is surely at home in the family of nations."
In addition to the class visits, Hibakusha Stories:
• coordinated events at the Brooklyn Friends Meeting House and Soka Gakkai International
• sponsored a film screening at the Maysles Cinema in Harlem
• planted fruit bearing commemorative cherry trees at the Roosevelt Island School Living Library, the Kingsbridge International School in the Bronx and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture
• shared tea ceremony at Uransenk Chanoyu with hibakusha and students
• produced a CD dedicated to the hibakusha called When Blossoms Fall curated by Sam Sadigursky with music donated by an international assembly of musicians
• sponsored a Café Concert for Peace at Cornelia Street Café with Sam Sadigursky and friends
• collaborated with New York Theatre Workshop producing three evenings of playreadings and student playwriting workshops in schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn
• hosted a reception and concert at the United Nations in honor of the hibakusha in collaboration with the Japanese government and the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs
• co-sponsored a panel discussion with the hibakusha that was webcast live from the Japan Society for high schools around the nation
• staffed a hospitality tent for survivors at the International Day of Action Rally, March, Peace & Music Festival at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
• developed a website with Standards-based curriculum aids
In addition to disarmament education, Youth Arts New York sponsors field trips to points of interest throughout the metropolitan area
• theater outings, principally in partnership with New York Theatre Workshop
• after-school arts workshops including photography with Janis Lewin, maskmaking with Gabriel Q, egg-batiking with Paul Wirhun and beading with Clyde Hall and Laine Thom, Native American elders from the Great Basi
We have a summer program in development called Growing Greens. Based in local community parks and gardens, Growing Greens will bring together youth and adults in an arts-based approach to learning that will enable students to become leaders in creating healthy lives and sustainable communities. The work is based on the the deep ecology teachings of Joanna Macy and the youth empowerment of The Power of Hope, an organization based in Seattle, Washington.