Wick’s Pizza To Host Open-Mic Night Geared Toward At-Risk Youth

Concerns for what some are calling a community of troubled youth has led the creation of a weekly event where young people can express themselves at a Louisville Highlands neighborhood business.

Expressions of You was once a long-running poetry slam series in west Louisville, and the people behind the event have decided it’s time to bring it back.

The series aims to attract at-risk young people and others affected by youth crime. 

James Linton, founder of Expressions of You, said some positive change is needed in this community after the recent problems with teenage violence.

Related: Louisville Teens Express Safety Concerns, ‘Push Back’ in Conversations About Downtown Violence

“We know that by bringing young people into the arts by using music, poetry, song and dancing it can get them to elevate to new heights,” Linton said.

The open mic night is one of many responses that community leaders have issued following a string of teenage violence that wreaked havoc in downtown Louisville last month.

Cameras have been installed around the Waterfront Park area, Mayor Greg Fischer said he’s looking at strengthening the city’s teen curfew law, and several community organizations have hosted forums and conversations meant to address the issues surrounding young people.

And the teens have responded, saying that talking isn’t the answer.

In early April, Jayjuan Taylor, 14, told WFPL there should be “no more talking.”

“We’ve said all we can say, tried all we can try,” he said.

Taylor told community leaders to “come to Beecher Terrace, walk through there.”

But Linton’s open mic night will be held at Wick’s Pizza on Baxter Avenue, far from the neighborhoods of west Louisville.

Linton recognizes that just getting the kids there could be an issue.

“We’ve seen that kids are pretty resourceful, they get wherever they want to go when they want to go,” he said.  “What we are asking them to do is make the first step to a life changing event and just be here and be present.”

The Expressions of You events are some of the first programs to be initiated following last month’s violence, and Linton expects success in reaching at-risk young people and others affected by youth crime.   

“One thing we want to remember, if we can just save one child we’ve done our job,” he said.

A group of student ambassadors will be attending the open mic nights, Linton said.  He said these high school students will be drug-free, alcohol free kids who are making good grades in school and “doing everything the right way.”

“We want to engage those young people, along with some of the troubled youth in our city, so they can see how to do things the right way,” Linton said.

The open mic night will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursdays nights at Wick’s Pizza on Baxter Avenue.  

Jacob Ryan

Jacob Ryan is the Urban Affairs reporter for WFPL.

@jacobhryan

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