On April 20, the Coalition to Prevent Alcohol-Related Harms In LA Metro, funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, held “Rise Up Speak Out,” a youth storytelling night and art show that advocated for creative writing and art as a healthy and effective strategy for processing stress and trauma. The event was held in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. 

Rise Up, Speak Out is intended to be a space for Los Angeles youth to come together, build community, and find commonalities in their life experiences.

Over 60 people attended the event, viewing art and listening to poetry and stories from 14 local storytellers and artists. Our 2018 cohort consisted of youth ages 13 to 19 of diverse backgrounds, representing neighborhoods including East Hollywood, Northridge, Koreatown, Downtown LA, Echo Park, and Sherman Oaks. Our youth brought issues to light through their art and writing including immigration, bullying, depression, social media pressures, coming out as LGBT, and the importance of finding support from friends and family.

“We are so proud of our storytellers and artists for sharing their stories of hardship and resilience,” says Vince Leus, KYCC Health Policy Associate. “Rise Up, Speak Out continues to be a unique space for teenagers in Los Angeles to share their stories and build connections with one another. What we have seen in the field of prevention is a better understanding that building lasting, human connections is an effective strategy to prevent underage drinking and drug use. We will continue organizing RUSO to promote writing and art as an effective approach to processing trauma and stress.”