(AllHipHop News) The non-profit organization Beats Rhymes And Life (BRL) is teaming with the Oakland Public Library and Oakland Parks and Recreation Department to offer its Hip Hop Therapy initiative to the California city.
Youth between the ages of 12-19 will participate in the 20-week-long workshops that seek to increase literacy and vocabulary, creative and critical thinking skills, positive coping strategies, and self-esteem. Mental health clinicians, teaching artists, and peer mentors engage the participants through a therapeutic program rooted in Hip Hop. The young people will also get to record a collaborative album and perform at a showcase.
BRL was founded by social worker Tomás Alvarez III and Hip Hop artist/youth advocate Rob Jackson. The organization has also operated Hip Hop Therapy programs in San Francisco and the South Bronx. Approximately 70 youth per year are served through BRL’s Therapeutic Activity Groups.
Earlier this year, Alvarez said in an interview:
In 2004 after piloting a ‘Hip Hop Therapy’ program at a public high school, I witnessed the immediate impact it had on its youth participants, many of whom were chronically truant from school and at-risk for dropping out. 100% of the youth that participated completed the Hip Hop Therapy program, and shortly after we saw an increase in their grades and attendance. They also reported that Hip Hop Therapy changed how they felt about therapy and mental health in general. Others started clamoring to sign up. At that point I realized I had something special.
The 2009 independent film A Lovely Day followed the lives of Oakland teens that participated in BRL’s program. For more information about Beats Rhymes And Life visit brl-inc.org. To sign-up for BRL’s fall program in Oakland click here.
Watch an interview featuring Tomás Alvarez III and the trailer for A Lovely Day below.