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Level UP: A creative summer experience

By Alexandra Wilson

The Coronavirus pandemic changed the game for many school-age students. One minute, they were roaming the halls laughing with friends and the next, confined to their homes with nowhere to go. It has been a rough year, and teenagers are looking forward to the upcoming summer in order to get back to some type of normalcy. What has occurred over the pandemic is a surge in creativity. With nowhere to go, young people on social media have turned to art and music to express themselves when there is no one else around. The Hampton Roads Messenger is looking to give students more creative outlets to express themselves through its 2021 Level UP Program. This free, 8-week long program will introduce teenage students ages 15-18 to a myriad of cultures and allow them to immerse themselves in the creativity embedded in those cultures.

During Level UP, students will explore the cultures of the Caribbeans, Latin Americans, Asians, Africans, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and more. Each week students will meet virtually on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. There will be a theme for each week, as students explore these 8 unique cultures. Some of the information that students will learn will be the history of the art and music in these cultures, well-known writers, artists, and musicians, along with the food that the natives eat. The hope is that learning about the creative pioneers in these various areas will inspire students to be innovative and create their own works of art. Teens will also participate in writing workshops to enhance their creative writing and poetry skills.

Level UP will also have guest speakers that will give students information on mental health awareness, career awareness, financial literacy and numerous other subjects. Seeing the flourishing creative careers of the artists, writers, and musicians in these various geographic locations will show students that the arts is a bountiful opportunity for expression and careers, with much to offer. Level UP is a positive multicultural summer experience for teenage students. Additionally, the workshops on zoom are created by educators to foster collaboration between students and their peers. Students will be able to converse with one another about what they are learning and what they think about different works of art and literature. During the program, the Hampton Roads Messenger will even be providing canvases and other art supplies for each student to paint their own works of art. Opportunities for in-person experiences will also be safely provided based on pandemic conditions at the time. 

After completing each week of the program, students will receive a certificate of completion through the summer and continuing throughout the school year. Level UP is partnering with universities, the FDIC, and other organizations to provide content for the program beginning June 25. For more information on how to participate, contact info@hamptonroadsmessenger.com. We hope to see you at Level UP!