Too many DC youth experience trauma and violence in their daily lives – and too few are equipped to do something about it. Using the power of the arts, One Common Unity builds resilient, compassionate young leaders, empowering them to break the cycle of violence and become positive forces for change. Its flagship program, Fly by Light, utilizes an intensive, multi-layered arts curriculum – including after-school workshops, weekend field trips, healing nature retreats, violence prevention events, and citywide art showcases – to build participants’ social and emotional competencies. Youth learn to express themselves creatively and nonviolently, gaining lifelong skills to better cope with trauma, peacefully resolve conflicts, and build healthy relationships. Many become “ambassadors,” organizing open mic nights, performances, and workshops for their peers and for younger children. These creative young minds imagine a new, more hopeful reality. Let’s make it happen.
When schools were struggling to respond, OCU transitioned services to virtual platforms to support students, parents, and teachers throughout the crisis. Students continue to meet for Fly By Light chapter meetings and workshops using several online platforms (Zoom, Facebook, and Instagram) and OCU’s mental health clinicians now provide teletherapy to students exclusively through Zoom for Healthcare. Recognizing the amplified impact of COVID-19 on low-income communities and communities of color, OCU now offers outpatient mental health services to youth and adults throughout Washington, DC.