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The Young People of Color Yellow Springs will host "Drum, Dance and Draw: A Celebration of Black Culture" this Saturday at Mills Lawn. (Photo from the365projectys.org)

The Young People of Color Yellow Springs will host "Drum, Dance and Draw: A Celebration of Black Culture" this Saturday at Mills Lawn. (Photo from the365projectys.org)

Kids invited to ‘Drum, Dance and Draw’ this weekend

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Villagers are invited to come out for “Drum, Dance and Draw: A Celebration of Black Culture” on Saturday, April 16, 2–5 p.m. in the Mills Lawn Gym. The event will feature West African drumming, dance instruction and cartooning for grades K–6.

The event is sponsored by the Young People of Color Yellow Springs, or YPOC, a sub-group of the 365 Project. According to John Gudgel of the 365 Project, YPOC was founded in February of 2015 by himself and Village Council member Gerry Simms. Said Gudgel in an email this week: “Gerry and I thought that giving young people a voice and choice surrounding issues of racism was important, and thus we started a number of activities that engaged young people.”

Since the group’s inception, the YPOC have hosted movie nights, discussion forums with the police chief and on race in Yellow Springs and a youth swim party, and have participated in the Elaine Comegys Film Festival, an annual event sponsored by the 365 Project which features films, documentaries and discussions that concern issues of race.

This weekend’s event, said Gudgel, is an attempt at reaching out to elementary-aged youth, as most of the YPOC’s previous events have been aimed at older kids. “We also wanted to provide a relevant cultural activity that reflects on people of color,” he said.

At “Drum, Dance and Draw,” kids will meet Darren Gilley, a villager who has lived in West Africa and who has performed his West African-styled percussion internationally; Sterling Faust of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, who provided choreography for Mills Lawn’s production of “Seussical” last fall and who will teach dance at the event; and Opolot Okia, a villager and director of African and African-American studies at Wright State University, who will demonstrate cartooning.

Gudgel said the ultimate goal of the event is to provide local youth with exposure to meaningful, engaging activities that promote aspects of diversity. In that same vein, Gudgel said that while events focusing on people of color are often held only in February during Black History Month, the 365 Project and YPOC aim to move away from this practice by sponsoring events year-round.

For this weekend’s event, Gudgel stressed that attendance to the event is open not only to young people of color, but to the entire community. “We strongly encourage all children to attend this event,” he said. “Youth will have to opportunity to participate and have fun in a wholesome and educational setting that is fun!”

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