WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A local organization is using its muscle to uplift youth and provide them a platform to be seen and heard.
Destination Innovation is making June all about young people and celebrating Black culture. KSN News visited Mulberry Art Gallery to get a first look at a work of art.
“The light in the sun behind these pictures means joy. Our young people need joy, a masterpiece with meaningful messages,” Marquetta Atkins, CEO and founder of Destination Innovation, said. “The mics on fire mean what a time for young people to express their voices.”
She says the organization is a hub of youth leadership and development and says amplifying young voices is its mission.
“We have Progeny, our youth touched by the juvenile justice system that we’re teaching leadership advocacy and how to change policy in a way that impacts them, and Root The Power is a civic engagement group where we teach young people how systems work and let them know if they don’t have the power of their vote, they do have the power of their voice and so they’re learning to inspire,” said Atkins. “All our programs are designed to give young people the network, the resources, and the mindset to be successful leaders.”
Recalling her own journey in choosing a path, Atkins is using that lesson as an inspiration and showing youth there are multiple ways to invoke change.
“We change the narrative by giving young people empowerment, so you know I’m old school,” said Atkins. “When I grew up, children were supposed to be seen and not heard. In our space, children are seen and heard, and it’s so important because when you look at the history of the world, any great thing that happened youth were a catalyst to it.”
Recent events have presented today’s youth with a platform to speak.
“Making sure the voices of young people are heard with the Cedric Lofton case happening and that young man losing his life is so important. We want to be the voice,” said Atkins.
Helping crescendo those voices, Atkins commissioned Wichita artist Kamela Eaton to create the piece called Too Deeply Rooted to be Muted.
“I automatically thought of a tree. A large tree with roots is such a symbol of strength,” said Eaton.
She used colors to catch the eye, spark emotion, and ignite change.
“These young people are our own fire, they are going to keep speaking up and speaking out, and they will be our future policy changers, they will transform this city, they are not going to quiet down, and that’s why this artwork means so much to me,” Atkins said.
The Too Deeply Rooted to be Muted piece is up at Mulberry and Chainlink galleries. There is a list of events happening in honor of Juneteenth this weekend. One is a conversation on June 18 in McAdam’s Park and will be led by the youth and them telling us what changes they need.