The Poetry for Personal Power program for 2013 – 2014 is a partnership with Wellness Wordworks and the American Jazz Museum. Funding was provided by the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. After this current funding cycle, Poetry for Personal Power is forming its own 501c3 and running independent operations.
The main idea of this program is that people can use wellness tools such as exercise, spirituality, mindfulness, volunteering, gardening, or of course, poetry, to get through tough times in their lives. We are gathering stories and poems about what people do in positive ways that helps them build friendships and feel better. See http://poetryforpersonalpower.com for a full program description, with video links and stories about how people get through tough times in their lives.
- This program is a stigma reduction campaign designed to share the information that people can use wellness tools such as poetry, exercise, spirituality, mindfulness, and community involvement to build friendships and get through their worst times. This is based on SAMHSA’s “What a Difference a Friend Makes” campaign and is targeted toward people that are 18 – 25 years old.
- During our first year, we hosted 10 “Poetry for Personal Power” information exchange session at First Fridays in the Crossroads District of Kansas City, one of the busiest art walks in the country. We had rolling bicycle based health fair display booth and asked people to tell us mental health stories and freestyle poems made up on the spot on the streets of Kansas City.
- During our second year, we hosted 15 university based “Poetry for Personal Power” open mic contests at universities throughout Missouri. These are performances, workshops, and poetry contests all combined into one evening or weekend event. We had funding for feature poets as well as cash prizes for the best poems about overcoming adversity in our lives.
- Our third year, we hosted 15 additional poetry open mic events at Missouri universities and colleges during the fall semester. During the spring semester, poets applied to replicate our program and hosted 50 events of their own. This was a pilot to a self-supporting national expansion.
- In our fourth year, we have recruited 25 sponsored poets to share health care messaging across the nation. These poets are now hosting multiple events throughout their cities. Follow our Facebook page or Twitter account for event notices.
Here is a video explaining why the program was designed. This video shows Poetry for Personal Power Program Manger Corinna West during a feature at Jazz Poetry Jams at the Blue Room at 18th and Vine in Kansas City, MO.