Young Women’s Drumming Empowerment Project (YWDEP)
(co-recipient of the 2012 Jerry Garcia Award)
The Young Women’s Drumming Empowerment Project gives rise to young women’s self-esteem, self expression, and positive development through drumming, poetry, movement, song and performance. Since 2005 YWDEP has been organizing a summer enrichment program for urban teen girls. Young women are enrolled from all wards of the District as well as neighboring counties in Maryland, and are ages 11-18. They engage in 12-14 weeks of weekly intensives with established DC artists who also serve as positive female role models and mentors. The girls begin by learning to play the djembe. Young women open up as they learn to drum, and are then guided to journal, write their own poetry and songs, choreograph dances and skits, and perform in front of live audiences. Each summer ends with a final performance, which serves as a rite of passage for young women who enter the program shy, apprehensive, and unable to process their emotions and reach completion as self-assured young women who are not only aware of their talents and wisdom, but able to express these to audiences of family, peers, community members, and strangers.