“The East Baltimore Drug-Free Community Coalition has done, and continues to do, a number of projects with youth including workshops, listening sessions, sporting events, town hall meetings, branding activities and joint youth learning activities,” said the coalition’s Project Director Reverend Richard A. Henderson. “Our prevention coordinator and I met and talked about how we can work with youth on creating a message that could spread on social media, as well as getting the attention of other youth in Baltimore. These young people are not just dealing with substance misuse in their community, but they are also seeing other things in the community, such as violence and crime, causing them to become traumatized from what they see. Part of the goal of the ‘We Ain’t Blight We Bloom’ project was for youth who participated in this song to bring awareness to other youth, showing them that no matter what blight they experienced in the community, they could bloom by doing positive and meaningful things and encouraging other youth to do the same. We understood the peer to peer concept of youth being able to reach other youth. The Baltimore City Health Department was very instrumental in some of the support needed to complete this project.”
“The difference that this project makes is allowing youth to be creative in developing messaging,” said Henderson. “The coalition has always taken and used this approach to empower youth to be the creators of messages that would focus on the issues that they deal with and come up with solutions that would make a difference.”
“As the coalition has shared what the youth created with coalition members and other partners, we continue to hear that this will make a big impact and difference in the community,” said Henderson. “One thing that we know is that youth are always looking for something new, and here in Baltimore the youth that we work with are very talented and creative in bringing forth change through what they do.”
“As the coalition is involved in other projects for the new school year, the plan is to share ‘We Ain’t Blight We Bloom’ with some of the other youth that we serve by providing workshops and listening sessions in schools, recreation centers, and through our other youth partners,” said Henderson.
“The East Baltimore Drug-Free Community Coalition advises other coalitions to allow your youth to be as creative as possible,” said Henderson. “We have found that when our youth are challenged with creating positive youth messages, it takes their creative minds to an entirely different level where they have become the real change agents in the community where they live. Allow your youth to bloom in everything positive that they do.”