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btw_youth, which literally means “by the way underscore youth” when texting, is The Middle Project’s teen leadership program.

In 2012, The Middle Project’s btw_youth in partnership with Chicago’s For Children by Children and the Lower East Side Girl’s Club gathered for a weekend to participate in the a readers theatre of Rod Lewis’ play Self Destruction.

Self Destruction mixes dialogue, dance and music to address cyber bullying, youth violence, relationships and the media’s role in young people’s lives.

The three groups worked together to portray scenes from the piece. After the youth actors completed their scenes, candid discussion followed, including what each character represented and the situation that was presented. By using arts as a tool, these young people spoke about concerns that are not always easy to discuss in everyday conversation. About 30 youth participated in the weekend’s events.

In 2011, Tadej Brdnik, a principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, guided teens to choreograph a flash mob dance to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way. And Executive Director Jacqui Lewis, Ph.D, also taught useful communication tools about how to deal with conflict and how they can use various leadership styles in their social circles. The youth performed a flash mob dance at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan on Saturday, June 25 and surprised congregants of Middle Collegiate Church with a performance on Sunday, June 26 during worship.

We thank the generous donors who make this possible. You can partner with us to create opportunities like this by donating here.

Video of the performance at South Street Seaport can be seen here:

If you’re having trouble viewing the video, click here to watch on Vimeo.