Every Voice Matters: Empowering Youth East of the River


This summer, Martha’s Table continued setting the stage for our expansion to D.C.’s Ward 8 by engaging high school students east of the Anacostia River with arts education. Through partnerships with Critical Exposure, a photography and youth advocacy organization; Project Create, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding education in
the arts; and the generous support of people like you, our Healthy Connections program offered an opportunity for older youth to find their voices and express themselves.

For many of the students, working with a camera, music editing software, or 3D markers was a first—but they quickly learned to utilize these unfamiliar mediums to share their experiences as teenagers growing up in Ward 8. Yet, while learning these new skills was an essential part of this summer’s program, its true goal was something more significant. As Anaise Aristide, a Martha’s Table teen program alum and youth educator with Critical Exposure put it, she wanted her students to realize that “just because they’re young doesn’t mean they don’t have power and can’t tell their story.”

Photographs and 3D paintings were on display at the program’s concluding exhibit, where students also took to the stage to showcase mixed-media presentations that featured their favorite inspirational songs spliced between verses of original poetry.

Afterward, the audience flocked to displays of the students’ visual art, which reflected the joy and pain of their lived experiences and showed the power of self love. Throughout all the works, the students made one thing clear: their voices matter.

And many of their voices will inform our organization’s plans
for the months ahead. Students who participated in our summer programming will constitute Martha’s Table’s Youth Advisory Council, giving them an opportunity to weigh in on decisions related to Martha’s Table’s expansion and programming.

As we look to 2018, we’re thrilled to ramp up exciting arts and technology programming for older youth east of the river. With your support, we can ensure that D.C. teens’ voices are heard!

Read more about our new center and expansion to Ward 8 here.

ACTION ALERT: Support Martha’s Table with a monthly donation as we expand to Ward 8! Click here to learn more.

Photo: A summer program student recites a powerful piece of original poetry. Photo by Calvin Wade, Jr.