WATCH | Their catch phrase is "saving lives, one rhyme at a time," and it's no exaggeration. Street Poets, based out of Los Angeles, is literally helping hundreds of at-risk youth to turn their lives around and use their voices for a force of good.
Favio Lovos is an alumni with Street Poets. He's 18 years old, and about to start college at UC Davis. Finding his voice in poetry saved him from going down a dark path, after he experienced extreme trauma and hardships at home.
Favio is exceptionally well-spoken and thoughtful. He's calm and centered, until you ask him about poetry. Then, he lights up and gets all excited. Poetry is exciting to him, because it gives him the outlet he needed to process his trauma.
Favio grew up experiencing domestic abuse, and the trauma from that experience caused him to turn to drugs and gangs on the streets in east LA. At 15, he found Street Poets, and he says it single-handedly changed the course of his life. He started going to school more, and finally had a healthy outlet to pour all that anger and hurt into.
Chris Henrikson is the founder of Street Poets, and he's been using poetry to work with incarcerated and at-risk youth in Los Angeles for decades. He says poetry is an easier sell than you'd think.
People tend to jump at the chance to have their voices heard, especially if they're coming from an atmosphere where their voices have been suppressed.
Chris says Favio is the perfect ambassador for the work they do at Street Poets. Favio, Chris says, emits a light that makes people around him want to be better. Favio's infectious zest for life and words is apparent, through the video.
Street Poets runs a number of programs, like the Poetry in Motion Van, and open mic poetry slam nights for members of the group. On those nights, any member of the Street Poet community has the floor to talk about whatever they want.
Chris says the reason why this works so well is because it creates a safe space totally free from judgement, so people like Favio feel comfortable to be vulnerable in their poetry.
For Favio, that's everything. If he didn't have poetry in his life, he says, "I would be voiceless."
Check out another story of an LA native making waves in his community. Meet Ron Finley, the gangsta gardener.