On November 18, 2014, Studio 345 students, parents and staff convened to celebrate the Studio’s partnership with Park Journeys, Inc. Park Journeys, Inc. is a youth development organization which seeks to educate, energize and empower urban and rural youth. Last summer, ten Studio 345 youth were selected to participate in a 16-week program which integrated exploration, wellness and civic engagement into a transformative journey. The three-piece journey began locally in Charlotte, when participants were charged with addressing a community-based need – youth homelessness. Participants made three trips to The Relatives – the only local organization focused on providing homeless youth with shelter and support services. The Studio 345 students worked together with Residents’ clients to plant shrubbery and trees, and paint a “Safe Place” mural. As the culmination of this civic engagement component, the group selected Justin Ratchford to travel to Washington, DC to advocate for the issue at a higher level. As the group’s delegate, he sought to find national support and solutions for youth homelessness in his local community. The final component of the program was the group’s
trip to Yellowstone National Park. The students were challenged physically and socially throughout the trip, as they embarked on strenuous hikes and participated in many team-building activities. Chaperone Emily Pfahl reflected, “The students worked together, worked through their differences and grew throughout the trip – they emerged more confident and ready to take on foreign places.” Tuesday’s celebration included reflections from students, a rap performance inspired by the trip, a video slideshow and gallery exhibit of student photography. The festivities ended on an exciting note with a grant announcement that will make this trip possible for m ore Studio 345 scholars.