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Outreach for Positive Change

Through the financial support granted us by the TD Bank Foundation, Intersections continues to provide outreach programs to the metropolitan New York community. These programs are unique in that both visual and performing artists are utilized to demonstrate how creative thinking and collaboration are key in empowering individuals and communities to realize growth and positive change. A special emphasis is placed on programs for youth at the elementary, middle and high school levels, which focus on leadership and self esteem.

In addition to our school programs, we offer community-based presentations that empower members of our community and assist them in finding housing, health and economic support.

Last Friday we presented at the Coalition for the Homeless here in Manhattan in support of their First Step Job Readiness and Training Program. Coalition for the Homeless is the nation's oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women and children.

Our team was comprised of Nioka Workman, an amazing Cellist and composer; David Kanter, ethnomusicologist, conductor and percussionist; and myself, Fred Johnson, musician, composer and vocalist. We spent time with our group creating and laughing and also exploring the truth that each of us has a unique gift to give to the world, and that while we will inevitably face some challenges along the way, we must hold on to the desire to forge ahead.

Nioka opened our presentation with an original composition that she had created for the Joffrey Ballet company. This set a creative tone in the room that immediately put people at ease and alerted them that this was not just another "pep talk." We spent the next hour in creative group participation, demonstrating that when you combine listening, collaboration and joy, amazing things can happen. David shared an overview of the evolution of music and some neuroscience describing how processes of creative thinking can lead to personal well-being and communal growth and prosperity.

Afterwards the participants were inspired, envisioning tangible ways to apply what they learned in the program to their daily lives; coordinators for the First Step Job Readiness Program saw an openness to participate that was a breakthrough for several of the First Step students; and our experience with the group confirmed the importance of creative expression as an tool for inspiration and transformation.