The Paramount Theatre will feature The Voice of the Unheard: An Experience of Hope, a three-part show intended to raise awareness of the struggles of homeless youth in Abilene, during ArtWalk on Thursday.
The performance will begin with an introduction by Hannah Capra, high school senior and photographer. She will explain the Photovoice method, a worldwide program that gives people the chance to share their voice through photography. Capra said she took the program and modified it to fit Abilene’s needs.
“The basic structure of a Photovoice project is just giving a voice to those who have none,” Capra said. “It gives them a way to visually represent their issues, which I think is a very strong statement.”
After Capra’s introduction, she will show a video she created of photographs from the project paired with voices of the kids with whom she worked. Capra said the purpose of this event is to bring awareness and change.
“The one thing I’ve learned from Photovoice is that these kids are so brilliant and so eager to learn and express themselves,” Capra said. “But if we don’t give them the chance to do it in a proper way, whether it be giving them financial aid or giving them a bed to sleep in or giving them a camera to take pictures with, then all of that energy goes into activities that are not productive, and they’re things that put them on the street in dangerous situations.”
After the video, the Hope Stone Dance Company from Houston will perform Village of Waltz. Capra said the company does a lot of work in schools with at-risk youths.
The last part of the night will be spent informing Abilenians of ways they can become involved with at-risk and homeless youth. A representative from the Christian Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to reaching out to homeless youths in Abilene and the organizer of the event, will speak about their new project, Our House, and the goals and missions for the organization.
Nancy Capra, board member of the CCDC, said the non-profit was organized in 2006 in response to a need for a youth shelter in Abilene. The actual facility for Our House is under construction and expected to open by 2010.
“Our House is going to be a transitional living facility for youth, ages 15-21, who are unable to stay in their homes for a variety of reasons,” Capra said. She said not only Abilene children, but anyone who walks through the door at Our House will be welcome.
During the 2008-09 school year, the Abilene ISD identified 46 children, ages 11-17, as unaccompanied youths. Capra said the issue of homeless youth is important, and but for people to care about it, they must know about it.
“If Abilene can focus all of their potential into something positive, then there is an amazing opportunity for change and growth,” she said.
Capra said ACU students should attend Voice of the Unheard to find ways they can be involved in the community.
“ACU has said that they really care about homelessness, and last year, they had every freshman read Same Kind of Different as Me,” Capra said. “I’m not sure what ACU has done with that, but Our House is a perfect place for people who want to live that out – not just read the book, but really want to get involved.”
The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $5.