YourWords STL leads a series of projects focused on bringing the community together. Our Crossing Delmar Collaborative Projects connect elementary and middle school students who reside on opposite sides of “the Delmar Divide” to foster racial and emotional literacy and build empathy. The program addresses the need for healing racial inequities in St. Louis through strategic, sustainable action.
Students engage in fun team-building activities, honest reflection about their identity through writing poetry, instruction around mindfulness and yoga, and courageous conversations about race and racism. Through these activities, participants begin to cultivate empathy for themselves and others.
The long-term goals of the Crossing Delmar Collaborative Projects are to increase empathy and decrease fear in order to fight the effects of systemic racism. By providing these young people of different backgrounds opportunities to travel to unfamiliar parts of the city, learn in a different school setting, share meals and play together, YourWords STL is helping bridge divides on the path toward healing the community.
Initial schools included Parkway Northeast, Hawthorn Leadership School, St. Louis Catholic Academy, and Marygrove. These seven collaborative projects resulted in chapbooks, poetry slams, and podcasts created by students and distributed through SoundCloud and social media.
Subsequent projects have included students from New City School and Moline Elementary, who came together in January 2020 for reading, writing, discussion, creation, and physical activities. They participated in team-building activities, worked on a collaborative mural, recorded one another’s poetry, and created podcasts.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of student learning moved to digital spaces in early 2020. YourWords STL followed suit, transitioning its Crossing Delmar Collaborative Projects online. These virtual programs brought together students from Barbara C. Jordan and The College School, New City School and Confluence Academies, and St. Margaret of Scotland and Loyola Academy to engage in poetry, podcasting, photography, and photo and voice projects.