NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Norfolk youth organization, Teens with a Purpose, recently caught the attention of Colonial Williamsburg.

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When Director of Digital Content Stacy Hernandez from Colonial Williamsburg heard about the group’s latest project on WAVY TV-10, she said they knew it was the perfect example of young people inspiring change in their community.

“We actually saw a spot on WAVY,” said Hernandez. “We’re looking for young people who were trying to make a difference in their communities and happened upon this and we thought, ‘This is perfect. This is exactly the kind of thing they want to feature.'”

Teens with a Purpose uses art for teens across Hampton Roads to express themselves and learn valuable life lessons. For the latest cultural project from TWP, participants will present songs, poems, dances and other personal stories to help share how similar people are.

The presentations will also highlight the need for healing from the challenges of racism and discrimination.

Altogether, the performances will be part of “OTU: The Healing Quilt” which is an interactive experience brought together from the teen’s personal experiences.

OTU means ONE in the Igbo language of Nigeria.

TWP Creative Program Manager Andre Love says he’s just proud of all the work the teens have put into the project.

“We get to heal together by storytelling from our journeys from like Africa to the Americas and all over the world really,” said Love.

Suffolk high school senior Salma Amrou has been in TWP for about a year now and learned a lot from the project, especially for a project they poured their hearts and souls into.

“Another thing would be the connections that I made with other people. Putting our minds together and our hearts together. Pouring our souls into like this project that was, that’s a feeling that I’ve never experienced before,” said participant Salma Amrou from Suffolk.

She says the recognition means a lot because she feels empowered by having the ability to share her writing.

“Writing and being able to make my thoughts heard in some way or another, being able to, you know, reach the hearts of other people and the minds of other people, that has helped me feel like I have some semblance of control in the crazy world that we’re living in right now,” she said.

Hernandez says sharing these teens experiences come at an important time when America’s racial history is challenged.

“The ability to tell that story is being challenged in public schools and elsewhere,” she said. “So one of the stories we’re telling with this project is how important it is to understand all of that history.”

The goal of both projects is to inspire other teens to make positive changes in their communities and keep the conversation going.

“You’re getting history in the making,” said Love. “Cause like, what they’re talking about today is what we’re going to be talking about in 50, 100 years from now.”

This cultural project culminates in several performances across Hampton Roads.

The schedule for the event is as follows:

  • Sunday, January 23, 7 pm – 8 pm – Virtual Only
  • Saturday, February 26, Chrysler Museum of Art Kaufman Theatre 1 pm – 2 pm Hybrid (Live/Virtual)
  • Friday, March 11 at Wells Theatre, 3 pm – 5 pm Hybrid (Live/Virtual)