You Out Loud founder hopes new program brings perspective to mental health
When local writer and artist Suzi Mitchell came up with the idea for You Out Loud, one of the first things she decided was to collaborate with a mix of artists, life coaches and therapists to help guide the program.
“I thought to myself, ‘What can I do to help young people maybe learn a little bit more and get a bit more perspective on life?’” Mitchell said. “They’re so quick to say to us, ‘You guys just don’t get me.’ I thought if we could visually, or somehow through art, get a sort of window into their world.”
Mitchell describes You Out Loud as a transformative approach to mental wellness for youth in Routt County through public art projects and community integration. The program embraces self-expression through the arts, and its sessions are guided by professionals but led by teens.
You Out Loud is split into five engaging programs that Mitchell hopes will reach teens in Routt County. The programs are free for participants and open to any high school students in Routt County. The programs will be capped at eight participants, and enrollment is on a first come basis.
“We’ll start next week, and we just went live yesterday, and we’re halfway filled,” Mitchell said of the early response.
The first session, Octopus Project, begins Feb. 1 and runs for eight weeks. Tina Harlow, Missy Borden and Mitchell will guide the program, which meets Tuesday evenings at the Attic inside the Boys and Girls Club of Steamboat Springs, 325 Eight St.
“The entire message of resilience, self-awareness and relationship building is based on the Netflix film, ‘My Octopus Teacher,’” Mitchell said. “Students will take part in an eight-week session, creating pieces of visual art to form the first public art show for You Out Loud in March. The octopus will be used as a metaphor to explore individual personalities and inspire a sense of place in community.”
The second program, Lights, Camera Action, will begin in March and be guided by Harlow. The film-based program explores what it would look like if teens had an instrumental role in how our communities are run.
You Out Loud will also include a podcast created in conjunction with the Tread of Pioneers Museum and spearheaded by life coach Sarah Kostin titled, “Growing up in Routt County, a multigenerational perspective.” The details of the final two programs are still being worked out, but “Go Big, or Go Home” will be guided by artists Gregory Block and Brian Bonebreake, and “Pieced Together” will explore different cultures.
Kosten said Mitchell’s energy inspired her to join You Out Loud.
“I missed community and wanted to kind of give back and be in touch with my community, again,” said Kosten, who will guide the podcast program and helped design and develop the website.
Mitchell said she is thrilled the Boys and Girls Club has taken You Out Loud under its umbrella.
You Out Loud has been fiscally sponsored by The Boys and Girls Club, but the project is responsible for its own fundraising. Mitchell said supporters can make donations at BGCNWC.org and mark their donations in honor of You Out Loud.
For more, go to YouOutLoudRoutt.com.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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