It's about expressing yourself.
That is the message from Gustav Gauntlett, of the ARTS! by the People program, who is donating his time to the for a free Hip-Hop training and recording mini-camp, to begin June 18.
"Arts, especially writing, is the number one way to express yourself," the Hip-Hop performer said. "There's the music when there are no words to say, especially for young people."
The camp, which will run for eight days, will give teens in Morristown, Morris Township and Morris Plains the opportunity to learn more and then record their own tracks, with the assistance of Gauntlett and the TeenPride staff.
It's just one of the many programs available–all for free–at the after school program located in the back of the building on Spring Street.
Since 1989, what started as a program through has grown into a drop-in activity center for teens from Grades 6 through 12. Counseling and tutoring services also are available, all at no cost.
"We're supported by donors," said Dan Levitt, director of TeenPride. Also, members of its staff, like Levitt and Assistant Director Jamie Pooler, are all volunteers. "It's something we think is important," Levitt said.
Despite being around for over 20 years, Pooler said TeenPride is still a secret to many people. "Teen centers are growing, kids have different needs," she said. "We're safe, and that's the key."
And, they're also rolling with the times. While still a place for kids to play basketball, cards, speak with a mentor get homework assistance, TeenPride wants to continue to expand its offerings, as the tastes of its clients continues to evolve. "That's why we're collaborating with ARTS! by the People," Pooler said. "We want to open the doors even more, to make them feel even more welcome."
Another reason for the collaboration, "Not everyone can play sports," Pooler said.
Gauntlett, who wrote and directed Mama Nature, a hip-hop musical that was performed in a number of venues both in New York as well as locally at Church of the Redeemer, said his Hip Hop Songwriting mini-camp will help teach participants to write on a beat. They will produce their own raps, music and record them all at TeenPride.
Then, they'll have their own projects they can show off to friends, family and anyone else they want to show their pride in self to.
"It's emotional, it's heartfelt," Gauntlett said. "Expressing positivity is a beautiful thing.
"If you ever wanted to create a musical artwork and have it forever, this is the way to do it," he added.
For more information about the eight-day Hip-Hop Mini Camp and TeenPride, visit www.teenprideinc.org or call 973-993-1699.