The world's largest youth poetry slam, known as Louder Than a Bomb, is inspiring Kansas City teachers on both sides of the state line.
Spoken word and poetry programs are popping up across the metro in an effort to give a voice to students who often go unheard.
Teachers once taught shop class in the current Washington High School wordshop.
"They shut down our industrial arts program," said English teacher Paul Richardson, who helped clear out the sawdust to make room for a new poetry program. "When a kid has that story inside of them, that is the only place it exists. It hardens them. There is a transformation that takes place when you put that story into words."
Richardson was inspired to open the wordshop.
After he watched the documentary film Louder Than a Bomb, he teamed up with Glenn North, the poet in residence at the American Jazz Museum.
"We've got a culture of violence that we are dealing with in our urban communities all across the country. When these young people have an opportunity for creative expression, when they have an opportunity to find community, when they find out that their voices are valuable that they can in fact effect change in their communities that becomes more powerful," North said.
The students inspired local construction company Centric Projects, which is sponsoring an event to motivate other school districts to start similar programs.
"At the end of the day, if we don't have a strong community, we have nothing. We have no businesses. We have no schools. We have no homes," said Richard Wetzel, a partner at Centric Projects.
In the wordshop, the students have voices that are now being heard.
Kevin Coval, the founder of Louder Than a Bomb, will host a special screening of the award-winning documentary on Thursday at the Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Kansas City.
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