YOUNG WOMEN FIND EMPOWERMENT THROUGH ARTS IN WEST SEATTLE

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Unified Outreach has been actively engaged in youth arts programming for nearly two-decades; and for the past 10 years has provided an eclectic catalog of unique programs from the Ginomai Arts Center in West Seattle’s Alaska Junction neighborhood.

August 21st Unified Outreach hosted their annual Youth Fashion Expose; a free community event which provided a top-shelf catered dinner and a raised runway with 20 models showing off the latest designs by Seattle Designers Carlisa Minnis and MAC Fashion House.

But behind the scenes is where the magic happens. The fashion show is part of a work-training program created by Unified Outreach that teaches Middle and High School students the skills necessary to deliver a high end event such as this. Student are trained on a variety of Adobe software programs used to design brochures and flyers, create music mash-ups, and edit photos and videos. Students also learn to construct the raised runway, provide staging ambiance, and operate the sound & lighting board.

april-toonThis year, Unified Outreach Regional Manager for Nevada, Mrs. April Goode returned to Seattle to assist with the 2016 program. April has been active with Unified Outreach for over a decade, serving as Chief of Operations in Seattle before moving to Las Vegas in 2013.

“The reason I am back in Seattle is because I love this program. Of all the different classes we offer this one is closest to my heart because we are not only exposing kids to new artistic mediums, but we’re teaching them how to use those skills out in the real world” April says.

cd-coverThe program, visualized and launched in 2010 by Unified Outreach staff; was presented to Mayor McGinn at a series of town halls. The following year Mayor McGinn and the city began funding the Office of Arts & Culture work-readiness grant program; which provides Unified Outreach and other local Charities with funding to assist with program costs and to provide each youth with a monetary stipend.

April says that she has personally seen lives changed by the program. “We build artistic skills, we focus on resume building, educational tracks, and networking opportunities. But we also focus on team building, communication, and breaking down barriers. All of this comes together to build positive self-esteem; which is the greatest gift we can give our kids”.

And the proof can be seen in the instructors themselves; many of which began the program as students and have now returned to give back to the program that they love.

darrian-splashDarrian started attending classes over 10 years ago, participating in music, dance, and video programs; where she co-hosted the Unified Outreach/SCAN Television program “What’s Good Seattle, the Shop 206”. Today she teaches classes in Fashion/Runway Event Management, as well as summer day camp Cartoon Animation and Video Production programs.

Isis first walked the catwalk six years ago at the pilot work-training program in 2010. This year was her first in the role of Instructor. “I really feel like I identify with the kids in the program. And it feels really good to share the things I’ve learned over the years.”

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kiel-splashKiel has been participating in Unified Outreach classes for as long as she can remember. From traditional drawing and painting, to contemporary dance, cartooning, music, and video. This year was her first as a program instructor for the Cartoon Animation Summer Day Camp.

Karla participated in the work-readiness program in 2013 and this year returned as an instructor for the Runway program. Now 18, Karla is also using the contacts she made through the program to pursue her own career in Fashion and Design.

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Unified Outreach Co-Founder David Toledo stated that it’s only natural that Unified Outreach would have strong leaders such as April and the previously mentioned students-turned-teachers.

“The Unified Outreach program was really inspired by my mother Alice; who in the early 1980’s opened a food bank from the steps of our own home. Mom was so creative, with a “lead by example” attitude, and a fearless advocate for kids, seniors, those with special needs, and really anyone who needed help. And my sister Diana Toledo-Palmer is the same way. She’s such a great example and inspiration for me. She’s a leader in the community; active in so many community organizations and working so hard to make West Seattle a better place for our children”, David Said.

Unified Outreach is located in West Seattle. More information is available at www.UnifiedOutreach.com

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