It’s no secret that teenagers have a lot of energy, especially over the summer when school is out.
It’s also no secret that teenagers need and deserve constructive outlets for their energy, productive ways to put it to use that they enjoy and that support their progress in becoming responsible adults.
But many of us can overlook or undervalue just how creative and artistic our young people are, and how important it is to support and encourage their creative self-expression. We older folks might not love all the music our younger musicians like to play, for example, but we should know the value of making sure they get these opportunities. We should keep in mind that teens in rock bands, jazz bands and other kinds of groups get to practice not only their music-playing but also skills like cooperation and patience.
The same goes for things like painting, drawing and other types of art. Many of these tend to be more solitary than music-playing, but they also invite reactions and feedback from viewers that help young artists develop behaviors and build skills that are invaluable throughout their lives.
Helena has called itself “the best small art town in America.” Yet as a community we don’t always encourage our teen artists as much as we could. For example, it seems to me that we would do better to give teens who create “graffiti street art” an acceptable outlet rather than discourage them completely or condemn them as delinquents.
These are among the reasons that Rocky Mountain Youth Resources is hosting “emPOWered” at Memorial Park on July 9. We hope it will be the first of many annual celebrations designed expressly for teens who create art and who enjoy producing or listening to live music of varied kinds.
“emPOWered” will feature an all-afternoon barbecue and live entertainment, with the day’s biggest attractions being a “Battle of the Bands” and a “graffiti street art” area where attending teens will be free to paint to their hearts’ desire.
The “Battle of the Bands” will consist of a two-tiered competition – one focused on middle school-aged performers, and the other featuring high school-aged musicians.
The day’s unique graffiti “street art” event will consist of an area blocked off in which teens will be able to paint whatever they want, using materials that will be provided for free or that the young artists may choose to bring themselves. This part of “emPOWered” will be held at Kindrick’s Legion Field, and will culminate during the Brewer’s home game that evening, starting at 7 p.m., the Helena Brewers will face off against the Idaho Falls Chukars.)
We want to offer Helena’s artistic teens a welcoming platform for fun and self-expression on a grand scale. We’re setting our sights on the goal of making “emPOWered” a new, creative summer tradition for Helena’s youth.
It’s true that “children are our future,” as the cliché goes. It’s also true that a society’s compassion and wisdom can be measured by how it treats not only its seniors but also its youth. A great many individuals and businesses throughout the Helena area agree, and have stepped up to support the first annual “emPOWered” event. They deserve our thanks, and I invite all young people (and interested parents and “older” people too) to come to Memorial Park on July 9 to celebrate the creativity and energy of tomorrow’s leaders.
Emily McVey is director of Rocky Mountain Youth Resources in Helena.