PressRelease – National Launch next Week for Poetry for Personal Power!

Presidentially recognized program to start national expansion in St. Louis and Cape Girardeau

 Eight colleges and universities in St. Louis and Cape Girardeau are hosting Poetry for Personal Power, Missouri’s homegrown mental health prevention program which is being presented to former first lady Rosalyn Carter next month.

St. Louis, MO, October 19, 2012 Missouri’s homegrown Poetry for Personal Program is beginning a national expansion in  St. Louis and Cape Girardeau. SEMO Association of Black Collegians will kick off with an open mic to talk about overcoming adversity on Monday Oct 22 at 8 pm at the University Center lounge. Seven other St. Louis schools will host the event on October 23 – 26.

Aja La'Starr will be the Poetry for Personal Power feature poet at UMSL on October 24, 2012

Aja La’Starr will be the Poetry for Personal Power feature poet at UMSL on October 24, 2012

The events host a nationally known spoken word poet to bring power to lead a discussion about how young people overcome adversity in their lives. Spoken word poetry is poetry that is meant to be performed rather than read on a page. The show seeks to change people’s perceptions about mental illness by sharing a number of positive self-support strategies like exercise, mindfulness, spirituality, gardening, or of course, poetry. The winning poets from each evening take home a $100 cash prize, and schools compete for $250 for the event with the most impact.

The program is part of a national Campaign for Social Inclusion funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration. People who are themselves in recovery from mental illness designed the program.

The messages and take home materials from the contest are from the “What a difference a Friend Makes,” campaign where people learn to stick by each other even if one person experiences emotional distress. The Heartland Consumer Network, the fiscal agent for the program, is a statewide advocacy organization made entirely of people who have been labeled with mental illness and are now seeking to assess and improve their local communities for other people like them. Wellness Wordworks, which manages the program, is a Kansas City based business blending for-profit and non-profit funding to teach audiences that emotional distress should be a temporary experience.

Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis hosts Poetry for Personal Power on october 25, 2012.

Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis hosts Poetry for Personal Power on October 25, 2012.

The events will feature 30 minute sets by nationally recognized poets Aja La’Starr, Brandon “Explicit” Thornton, and Tyree Thomas. All winning poems from the events are posted on You-Tube, and the program has a research article pending about their results reducing separation for people with mental health labels. The article points out how the key program messages might be a national leader in prevention isolation for youth with emotional distress. The program seeks to help people with overcoming adversity, finding personal power, and connecting with peers.

The program can be reproduced nationwide by who completes a one hour online training process and submitting documentation after their events. The first 50 Missouri events completed are eligible for a $75 or $50 stipend, and hosts can sell poetry product, keep half of the door fee, and compete for $475 in prizes for the event with most impact.

 Contact: Corinna West, Program Manager

eight one six -392-6074

Corinna@PoetryforPersonalPower dot com

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