One Common Unity (OCU) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that breaks cycles of violence and builds compassionate, healthy communities through the transformative power of music, arts, and peace education. The non-profit organization began in the year 2000, when a group of educators and artists organized youth empowerment classes and workshops in public schools, recreation centers, and youth prisons throughout the Washington, DC area. In the past sixteen years, OCU has reached over 20,500 youth, parents and educators. Our initiatives are aimed at decreasing the amount of interpersonal violence in our lives, hence empowering individuals to make healthy, holistic, responsible, and positive ... read more One Common Unity (OCU) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that breaks cycles of violence and builds compassionate, healthy communities through the transformative power of music, arts, and peace education. The non-profit organization began in the year 2000, when a group of educators and artists organized youth empowerment classes and workshops in public schools, recreation centers, and youth prisons throughout the Washington, DC area. In the past sixteen years, OCU has reached over 20,500 youth, parents and educators. Our initiatives are aimed at decreasing the amount of interpersonal violence in our lives, hence empowering individuals to make healthy, holistic, responsible, and positive choices. Fly By Light is One Common Unity's flagship youth development program that emphasizes violence prevention, anger management and stress reduction through nature immersion and the arts. Fly By Light keeps an increasing number of youth off the streets and replaces their idle after school time with active engagement in arts projects that address social justice, personal development, and community awareness. Throughout the duration of the program, youth consistently revisit non-violent methods to improve their emotional health and wellness; while simultaneously working to find solutions to the problems they identify in their respective communities. There are three major activities in the Fly By Light program curriculum: after-school workshops, community service trips, and overnight retreats into National Parks. Throughout the year, each youth participates in 248 hours of programming. The breakdown of each program activity is as follows: After-school Programming Fly By Light workshops take place twice a week after school at six distinct public high schools throughout the Fall and Spring school semesters. During after-school programming, our youth meet with their Fly By Light facilitators for two-hour sessions that focus on non-violence, anger management, stress reduction, social justice, artistic expression, and mindfulness. These topics allow youth to engage in culturally relevant learning, set goals, become creative, and discover alternatives to risky behaviors and self-destructive habits. Arts activities include music therapy, singing/songwriting, poetry, dance, and visual arts. Altogether, throughout the school year, we host 68 workshops, which accounts for 136 hours of instructional time with our youth. Community Service Trips On these trips youth learn about the environment firsthand from park rangers and by working hands-on in nature through volunteer projects. These exciting day trips also provide our youth with opportunities to have adventure through activities such as kayaking, hiking, ice-skating, and swimming. These trips provide our youth with the opportunity to explore life outside of their neighborhoods. Not only do they gain a new point of view of their city and the surrounding DMV area, but they also interact with youth from our other program sites, overcoming differences of culture, neighborhood and age. The connections made between youth, mentors, and volunteers, shape a space that fosters positive interaction, introspection and communal accountability. These trips total 48 hours of programming. Overnight Retreats In the summer, youth are engaged in programming that focuses on outdoor learning and community building during their eight-day overnight retreat. Our youth come together in groups to work collaboratively on an artistic piece with the help and guidance of our professional artist-mentors and facilitators. Continuing to hone their crafts and try new things, youth practice a variety of instruments, create visual art and participate in workshops focused on music appreciation, performance, and the social impact of art. Youth learn and use non-violent conflict resolution skills as they dive deeper into personal and social issues, while also adjusting to personality and lifestyle differences among their peers. By the end of the retreat, youth bring their projects home with them and present them to their respective school communities in D.C. Overnight trips account for 64 hours of program time. Middle School Programming Our Yoga and the Mind Body Arts program was piloted at a middle school in the beginning of 2014. In this important program we are working with 6th - 8th grade students around cultivating mindfulness, emotional literacy, stress reduction, and healthy lifestyle habits. This pilot program is being made possible through a partnership with Flow Yoga Center and CHEC (Lincoln Middle School Campus). The yoga teachers receive training in our Fly By Light curriculum and model and integrate emotional literacy into their program sessions. In our comprehensive programming, the social and emotional aptitude of youth is honed and youths' self-esteem and self-efficacy is increased to help them navigate the complex path to adulthood. This program allows youth to develop skills that are too frequently overlooked in traditional educational settings.
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