2019 is off to a strong start and we are already in the midst of another transformative year of youth empowerment, education, artistic expression and mindfulness. We are proud to be in fifteen schools across all eight D.C. wards, impacting over 5,000 youth, families and teachers.
Highlights from the first quarter of 2019:
Legacy of a Dream Award: On January 21, Hawah Kasat, co-founder and executive director of One Common Unity (OCU), was honored as Georgetown’s 2019 John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award recipient at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The university presents the award annually to an inspirational emerging local leader at the Let Freedom Ring! celebration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this year featuring Grammy and Tony award-winning artists Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell. Read more about this great honor here.
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Intention Not Detention™: We were excited to move forward on a new program within our partner schools. The youth we serve attend under-resourced schools, lack access to enrichment opportunities, and too often struggle in the classroom, thereby impacting their overall academic progress. Low-income youth and youth of color are disproportionately more likely to become truant, receive out-of-school suspensions, or get expelled. To address these challenges, OCU has partnered with eight DC public schools across all eight wards, to embed social-emotional learning, trauma-informed, and restorative practices into school-level policies, practices, and classroom experiences. As part of this work, OCU program facilitators collaborate with partner schools to establish Intention Rooms™ as designated alternatives to in-school suspensions. Intention Rooms™ are safe, trauma-informed spaces to prompt students to reflect upon and transform their behavior, with the long-term goal of preventing future truancy and violence and addressing mental health challenges. Under the leadership of the Intention Room™ facilitator, students explore conflict resolution techniques, art and music therapy, mindfulness, restorative justice practices, and discuss the challenges they face in their daily lives.
Fly By Light Winter Showcase: On February 27, our Fly By Light youth and alumni artists from across Washington, D.C. shared original music, poetry, and dance at the 2019 Fly By Light Winter Showcase. Working in school and after-school with One Common Unity's facilitators in the Fly By Light program, these youth worked through art to find their voices, express themselves, and bring awareness to the issues they face as teens in D.C. -- we were honored to have over 130 community members who came out to see their art, listen to their stories, and be inspired by this beautiful, positive community of young leaders. ADD PHOTO(s)
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Fly By Light National Training: This February we were thrilled to launch a new initiative expanding our programming to include a national training which will certify teachers all over the country to lead Fly By Light chapters in their communities. Our award-winning program model and curriculum includes after-school and in-school workshops, overnight nature immersion retreats, annual city-wide showcases, professional development for teachers, parents, and other school administrators, and youth-led social justice campaigns. This summer, YOU can join educators, artists, and activists around the country who are passionate about building the next generations of changemakers and bring Fly By Light to your school or city! Learn more here.
Alumni Performance at NEXUS Summit: Our performance troupe consists of DC-Metro area youth who demonstrate a strong talent, passion, and commitment to performance and visual artistry as their central career focus. Our troupe artists train as transformative artists through the practice of “intentional creation”; concentrating in creating art that centers around OCU’s five pillars (artistic expression, social-emotional literacy, health and wellness, environmental leadership, and social justice). Through their art, they hope to promote healthy, thriving individuals and violence free communities. We were thrilled to have several of our alumni students and performance troupe members perform at the DC NEXUS Summit on March 8.
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Coming up, we would be honored for you to join us Thursday, March 14 for an evening "Elevating Peace" to benefit One Common Unity. We’ll have a full bar, heavy hors d’oeuvres, great entertainment, and a great program so that you can connect more with OCU. Learn more and register here.
In addition, we are excited to begin expanding our school-based mental health services through a new grant from the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health. We are now in the process of hiring a staff of social workers and clinicians to deepen and strengthen the work we are doing with our Fly By Light students and their families.
On behalf of our youth and staff, thank you for your support of One Common Unity. Because of you, we are able to continue building healthy, safe, and resilient communities through the transformative power of education and the arts. We couldn't do any of this without you, and we are so grateful for your support.