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Review for A W O L All Walks of Life Inc, Savannah, GA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

While working as a freelance journalist, I was told about AWOL in 2006, when the organization was in the midst of planning their first ever Hip Hop History Play. I wrote an article about their efforts for Georgia Music Magazine that year, but was so inspired by the work they were doing that I stayed in involved over the next several years, writing another article about the addition of their film program for The South Magazine, and then volunteering to teach a session of their music education program. That led to joining the organization as a part time artist facilitator, teaching music history, creative writing and marketing as a part of the music program. Over the years, I've watched young people who've been actively involved in the organization develop from shy teens into motivated, intelligent young adults who've gone on to college, taken internships, and become professionals in their own right. It's awe inspiring to say the least.

AWOL goes out of its way to provide a safe and friendly environment for at-risk youth in the Savannah area. In a community that still clearly demonstrates the scars of segregation and is burdened by a poverty rate that is well above the national average, AWOL provides youth with critical education and opportunities that they would have missed out on otherwise because of slashed school budgets and neglected neighborhoods. It provides an opportunity for young people to discover that the world is bigger than their block, or their city, and understand that there are more options in life than jail or minimum wage labor, but only if the kids are motivated and educated. The program is not a band-aid to fix all the wrongs in the world, but when it is successful, it helps mold self-confident, intelligent young people who will contribute to the culture and community of whatever place they choose to end up in life.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Watching numerous youth who've participated in AWOL's programming grow up to be exceptional young adults and gifted artists, performers and writers.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Give them more space to run programming and increase the number of programs offered so that participants could advance through different levels of programming (beginner, intermediate, advanced). In many cases, youth are limited in their ability to remain engaged in programs year after year because there is no ability for advancement within specific programs.

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field & Wrote an article about the organization several years ago and haven't been able to stop helping since.