JASON TAYLOR AND OMARI HARDWICK LAUNCH
BLUAPPLE POETRY NETWORK IN BROWARD COUNTY, FLA.
Football Hero and Hollywood Actor team up to inspire and empower youth
Through Spoken Word Poetry
WESTON, FL– Jason Taylor, current ESPN analyst and former All-Pro linebacker/defensive end for the Miami Dolphins, has teamed up with actor and poet, Omari Hardwick (Middle of Nowhere, Verses & Flow, Sparkle, For Colored Girls, I Will Follow) to launch a spoken word poetry program designed to inspire, motivate and empower young people in South Florida. The Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network is available to students attending public high schools in Broward County (Fla.), the sixth-largest school district in the nation.
This multi-faceted, after-school program is the latest collaborative effort between the Jason Taylor Foundation and the School Board of Broward County’s Department of Diversity, Cultural Outreach and Prevention. The bluapple Poetry Network has been created to build a community of young people across the county who will develop and utilize critical literary skills and self expression, both written and through performance, as a vehicle for prevention, social activism and change, ultimately empowering young people, the schools they attend and the communities in which they live. Taylor and Hardwick originally developed a pilot program for the football star’s after-school literacy initiative, the Jason Taylor Reading Room, and the two are building upon that concept in an effort to impact more youth.
"We are constantly looking for innovative ways to reach and inspire these kids, and Omari and I both feel that Spoken Word is a perfect fit given its obvious ties to literacy and just how empowering of an art form it is," explained Taylor. "We are grateful that the School Board of Broward County has bought in completely by partnering with us on this project, and we hope for this Network to make a huge impact in our schools."
"I have always dreamed of a landscape of young poet soldiers swinging their words like swords to cut through the pains of their lives," expressed Hardwick. "Thanks to Jason, his Foundation, Seth Levit and the School Board of Broward County, in partnership with yours humbly & truly, my dream has become a reality!"
The Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network is moderated by Blu Bailey, Director of the Jason Taylor Foundation’s bluapple Poetry Corner and Founder and Director of Spoken Word Press, an organization dedicated to reaching youth across boundaries of age, race, class, genders and cultures through poetry. Bailey’s dynamic curriculum will be shared with teachers from nearly 30 schools across the district.
Students participating in the bluapple Poetry Network will engage in weekly workshops at their respective schools and, through video conferencing, conduct "virtual" slams and showcases with other schools in their district. The virtual showcases will provide students with the opportunity to share their work, creativity, ideas and ideals with their peers across the county, with the goal of developing a greater sense of community and understanding.
"Broward County Public Schools' Diversity, Cultural Outreach & Prevention Department is excited about this collaborative effort," said Amalio C. Nieves, Curriculum Supervisor for the Diversity, Cultural Outreach & Prevention Department and Project Bridge Safe Schools Healthy Students Director. "The bluapple Poetry Network is such a critical initiative because it will serve as a vehicle for our students to feel empowered to express themselves in an atmosphere of support and respect. The students' deeply personal expressions then become the vehicles whereby they raise awareness and challenge us to enact changes in our ever-changing society."
About the Jason Taylor Foundation
In July 2004, Miami Dolphins All-Pro Defensive End Jason Taylor and his wife, Katina, established the Jason Taylor Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) organization. The Foundation’s mission is to support and create programs that facilitate the personal growth and empowerment of South Florida’s children in need by focusing on improved health care, education and quality of life.
The Jason Taylor Foundation has made long strides in a short period of time, impacting tens of thousands of children through innovative programming including The Jason Taylor Reading Room, bluapple Poetry Corner, Big Screens-Big Dreams, Cool Gear for the School Year, the Jason Taylor Children’s Learning Center and Jason Taylor Scholars, among others. For more information on the Jason Taylor Foundation, please visit www.JasonTaylorFoundation.org.
About the Diversity, Cultural Outreach and Prevention Department
The School Board of Broward County’s Diversity, Cultural Outreach and Prevention Department (DCO&P) has a goal of planting the seeds for a drug and violence free tomorrow for all Broward County School District Students. DCO&P employs culturally competent family counselors and prevention specialists that have assisted in the implementation of the department’s vision to provide violence and substance abuse education; mental health services; and appropriate referral, treatment and follow-up services to Broward County.
In order to move in the direction of student support, DCO&P is collaborative, creates partnerships and carefully planned services and programs. By focusing its efforts on the four strands of prevention (Health & Wellness, Instructional Strategies, Substance Abuse Prevention and Violence Prevention), the DCO&P helps ensure the academic success of all Broward County students. For more information, please visit www.browardprevention.org.