Beasts

Eayikes, Non-Profit Empowering Youth

Listening breaks down walls and changes lives.

Eayikes [say E-Yikes] is a non-profit built by 3 friends – Alex, Kyle, and Ray – that’s creating safe, creative spaces to help young folks make positive changes in their lives and their worlds. They aim to teach kids how to really listen and cultivating wonder.

“You’ll hear other people’s stories and experiences, things that haven’t happened to you and you can take their stories and add it to your life. Slowly you’ll let down your walls, you’ll break free and start your own thinking,” says Jahleel, an Eayikes Camper.

 

The 3 founders’ worked together at the Student Parent Orientation Program (SPOP) of UC Irvine. The massive impact that being heard and validated had in helping incoming freshmen transition to college life stuck with them. That kind of emotional support became the foundation of all that Eayikes does.

Camps, workshops, and community service are just the tip of the iceberg, though. Eayikes gets creative – like impromptu cheer tunnels – to help youth engage, strengthen and improve their communities.

Imaginations are boundless, but sometimes it takes a little support to believe in your own.

Want to read another story like this? Building Beats is an organization that teaches kids all about the music business. 

Beasts

Shakespeare Unites War Vets

In Kentucky, combat veterans are being brought together by an unlikely source — theatre.

Fred Johnson, founder of Shakespeare with Veterans, says there is an unexplainable power in Shakespeare’s words of 400 years ago that modern language can’t quite convey. War, loss, empathy, and tragedy are threads in the scripts that hit the heartstrings of many vets.

“But we in it shall be remembered,” Shakespeare wrote in Henry V, a play that is also known for it’s prolific battle speeches. “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”

Some were skeptical that veterans would find this program interesting, but some neighboring organizations went ahead and joined together to make it happen, including the Louisville Vet Center and the Kentucky Shakespeare Company.

The Shakespeare With Veterans’ goal is to offer “the opportunity for camaraderie and a higher sense of purpose that represents what veterans loved most during military service.”

 

Photo: Shakespeare With Veterans

 

The vets rehearse in the local Louisville Vet Center, a haven that also provides counseling for PTSD, outreach, and referral services (like employment assistance).

Amy Attaway, artistic director for Kentucky Shakespeare, told Huffington Post about her experience directing the vets. “They would say, ‘this speech sounds like exactly what I would say to my soldiers in the field,’ or ‘this sounds like it could be today’. Those moments have been really exciting to me—new people waking up to the poetry and the power of the words. If you let yourself dig into it, you’ll find whatever you’re looking for.”

Since the program’s initial launch in early 2016, the experiment has become a success. Many vets have found great joy in discovering their inner thespians, some driving 2 hours each way to attend rehearsals.

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