BRL ALUMNI ADVOCATE FOR CHANGE

On February 10th, 2015 members from the BRL Academy (backed by the entire BRL organization) addressed the Alameda County Board of Supervisor’s (BOS) regarding the mental health disparities facing Black males throughout the county and urged the governing body to take action. Long time BRL Academy member Shawn McGowan talked about his own challenges accessing culturally responsive care and asked the BOS, “when will the mental needs of African America TAY become a priority for this county?”

Transition Age Youth, also referred to as TAY, are commonly defined as individuals between the ages of 16 and 25 years. They have unique service challenges because they are too old for child services but are often not ready or eligible for adult services. As a result, TAY have become one of the most underserved populations throughout the state of California.

Lemondre Bailey also spoke on behalf of the BRL Academy members, “What you all need to understand is that hurt people , hurt people, healed people heal people”. Lemondre went onto share details about the transformative work Academy members are doing through their peer mentorship of younger youth in BRL. Lemondre also addressed the profound grief experience by teens who deal with violence and repeat loss, “You all need to understand our youth losing people everyday. Homicide is not just a criminal issue, its a mental health issue”. According to the Alameda County Public Health department homicide is the leading cause of death for young people in Oakland.

Another Academy member, Damonte Wilson was recently featured by Oakland North. Check out his interview below:

Stay tuned for more updates regarding Academy’s advocacy efforts…

WEST OAKLAND: SPRING PROGRAM STARTS SOON

Spring-OPL-Flyer3

WEST OAKLAND: BRL/OPL/OPR are hosting a Spring Hip Hop Therapy Program and Workshops for Young Men between the ages of 12-19:

  • Write and Record with BRL Staff and Alumni 
  • Perform at BRL Spring Youth Showcase
  • Produce your own original music 
  • No previous experience needed to apply
  • Sign up today below

Beats Rhymes and Life, Inc. has partnered with Oakland Public Library and Oakland Parks and Recreation Department to bring Hip Hop Therapy to East and West Oakland! This project will seek to create a much needed outlet for Oakland’s Youth and “re-imagine” how the City of Oakland and its partners can come together with youth to build a movement towards mental health and well-being. This collaborative project could not be possible without the generous support of its partners and the California State Library. ONLY A LIMITED NUMBERS OF SLOTS ARE AVAILABLE. Sign up today to reserve your spot! 

EAST OAKLAND: FALL PROGRAM

Fall-Program

FREE Fall Hip Hop Therapy Program and Workshops for Young Men between the ages of 12-19:

  • Write and Record with BRL Staff and Alumni 
  • Perform at BRL Winter Youth Showcase
  • Produce your own original music 
  • No previous experience needed to apply
  • Sign up today below

Beats Rhymes and Life, Inc. has partnered with Oakland Public Library and Oakland Parks and Recreation Department to bring Hip Hop Therapy to East and West Oakland! This project will seek to create a much needed outlet for Oakland’s Youth and “re-imagine” how the City of Oakland and its partners can come together with youth to build a movement towards mental health and well-being. This collaborative project could not be possible without the generous support of its partners and the California State Library .

THIS AIN’T YOUR PARENT’S PUBLIC LIBRARY

This summer, BRL is thrilled to announce that we will be partnering with Oakland Public Library (OPL) and Oakland Parks and Recreation (OPR) to bring Hip Hop Therapy to youth in East and West Oakland.

This partnership builds upon BRL’s BMOC (Boys and Men of Color) work and will create ‘mental health hubs’ via Hip Hop Therapy within the Oakland Public Library system–an approach that has never been done before and has the potential to be replicated throughout the State. This collaboration will provide three Hip Hop Therapy programs and workshops over the course of one year in East and West Oakland, serving approximately 125 boys and young men of color. Through this partnership, youth will be able to increase literacy and vocabulary, multimedia skills, positive coping strategies, self-esteem and agency. BRL is excited about this collaboration and promises to build upon the success we have demonstrated using #hiphoptherapy as an innovative mental health promotion strategy.

We will be posting more updates about this partnership so please keep up with us by following on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

 

BRL SHOWCASE HIGHLIGHTS YOUTH VOICE

BRL would like to thank all who came out on May 20th to our Spring 2014 Youth Showcase: My Life In Rhymes! Your presence was key in helping us create the Community of Care for our youth that is needed to support them in their creative, personal and leadership development.

Our Spring showcase featured youth from our site partners including, Seneca Family of Agencies and Oakland High School Wellness Center. We were also proud to partner with Civic Center Secondary School in San Francisco. In addition, we would like to recognize and thank the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, Oakland Arts and Cultural Funding and our monthly sustainers for providing us support for our programs over the year.If you missed out on this showcase, please don’t miss the next opportunity! Please stay up-to-date on details about our next one via Facebook and Twitter. Performance and photobooth photos from the night are available below.If you would like to help make our next youth showcase possible, please click here to donate.

The goal of BRL’s Hip Hop Therapy program is to engage at-risk/at-promise youth in a meaningful therapeutic experience by using hip hop music production and cultural expression as tools for healing and empowerment. By incorporating community-defined strategies with proven therapeutic models, BRL is able to provide culturally-responsive, youth centered, strength-based care to youth between the ages of 12-24 for whom traditional therapy is not a good fit.

 View Performance Photos

 View Photobooth Photos

MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

On May 13th, BRL Founder Tomas Alvarez III and BRL Academy Member, Shawn McGowan traveled to the California’s State Capitol to advocate for the needs of Transition Age Youth (TAY) at the ‘Mental Health Matters‘ statewide rally. Tomas and Shawn shared how BRL is using Hip Hop Therapy to reduce stigma associated with mental illness and receiving mental health services. Other speakers included Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Assembly member Rocky Chavez and State Senator Jim Beall.

BRL TRAVELS TO KINGS COUNTY

This month, BRL hit the road to Kings County to participate in a statewide conference held by the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare & Attendance (CASCW). BRL’s presentation included a keynote address by Executive Director, Tomas Alvarez III and a lunchtime performance by BRL Academy member, Shawn McGowan. Both presentations encouraged providers and policy makers to adopt an “asset-based” approach when working with marginalized youth populations.

BLACK MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

On April 7th, BRL hosted a focus group for African American young men to talk about mental health and the barriers they face in accessing meaningful support. The focus group was a part of a statewide project called the California Reducing Disparities Project (CDRP) which seeks to move away from “business as usual” and provide a truly community-focused approach to reducing disparities.