Nashville, TN- A new, urban youth magazine and non-profit, “kid extraordinaire”, is dedicated to nurturing positive lifestyles and development in the arts by producing a quarterly youth magazine. They fund-raise to provide scholarships to support black youth in travel and abroad programs, hold creative events that stimulate youth and inspire community engagement, and also offer internship opportunities. The program has also been turning up at any youth event that needs hosting. The founder of this non-profit magazine is a 23-year-old African American woman, Rishara Johnson, who dedicated her life to uplifting the youth through arts, culture, and style. Her magazine started in December 2017 and got instated as a non-profit April.
Youth engagement is the result of people being involved in responsible, challenging actions to create positive social change. This means involving youth in planning and making decisions that affect themselves and others. “I was introduced to youth engagement throughout my college experience, mainly as a Troop leader at Hartman Park. It’s crazy I used to be very introverted so when I actually had to work with kids that weren’t in my family, I was nervous, but being a Girl Scouts troop leader opened me up quickly” said, Johnson.
Effective youth engagement involves a supportive environment, an orientation towards positive outcomes, and program activities that involves multiple learning styles and are hands-on, experimental, relevant, and challenging. There are several core strategies to enhance young people’s meaningful engagement in programming. Whether it is a sport, after-school, or prevention program, young people can make authentic contributions by being involved in program planning, implementation, and evaluation/ reflection.
“Giving back is in my nature plus I get bored easily when I have too much extra time on my hands. No matter how much I have or don’t, giving myself is free”, Johnson continues, “I really never thought twice about it. I was already incorporating service into my life as a student. When I graduated and was bored with just going to work every day, I just found something to do that was positive for myself and others in the same place I used to be.”
Johnson’s “kid extraordinaire” is so important to her because its purpose is to uplift the young African Americans among their black culture and talents.
“Mainly because it’s something I needed when I was younger. I knew I liked art and was good at it, but never would’ve thought I’d pursue it professionally. I don’t have any regrets, but this would’ve helped ease a bunch of heartache in the long run”, Johnson continues, “black culture is the very nature of kid extraordinaire and its youth because black culture is literally everything and I never would’ve known that had I not went to an HBCU.” Youth engagement into arts is just as or even more important than academic engagement because arts help the youth to express themselves creatively without words and to escape the pressures of society. The arts are a positive way to have the youth develop ways to grow within character, confidence and evaluating situations with a strong mindset. Just as Ms. Johnson felt that it wasn’t possible to pursue art professionally, she suddenly found it in her heart to take advantage of her talents and culturally impact the youth through arts.
Johnson says her non-profit and magazine, kid extraordinaire, will convince youth to grow, move, and change. She continues by saying, “kid extraordinaire will change the future through showing black youth that we care about them as a community. It matters. We have to constantly realize that we hold a responsibility to the next generation to guide them. Not just by tradition, but by honesty and open-mindedness. We gotta give them the options we didn’t have instead of being jealous. We have to love ourselves and each other so we can help them evolve into their best selves.” The youth are the growing generation that’ll make the future better for all.
Johnson’s kid extraordinaire is very valuable because it discusses the issues needed for youth engagement in arts. With the arts enhancing the youth through experience, positivity, and mental health, those valuable assets will pave the way for generations to come. You can keep up with kid extraordinaire through their website: kidexmag.com.