our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
it is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. we ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? actually, who are you not to be?
- Nelson Mandela
Youth Out Loud had it's start in Washington, D.C. where It's founder, Joanne Vannicola took a stage script about child sexual abuse to Suitland High school and held workshops about violence, had auditions and rehearsed the play for the Race To Stop the Silence, a National Race Organized to raise money for service providers and survivors of child sexual abuse.
Joanne connected with Sharon Simone, an amazing woman who took her father to court in the 80's and won. He had sexually abused four of his girls and physically abused his two boys. He was also a child abuse expert for the FBI (can you believe it?!!) A television movie was made about Sharon's life and Joanne played her daughter in the movie. Years later Sharon and Joanne connected around social justice issues, politics and their mutual desire for peace in the world. Sharon was one of the co-directors of the Race to Stop the Silence (director, Pam Pine) and invited Joanne to go to Washington in 2004, after Sharon learned about Youth Out Loud and Joanne's work.
Youth Out Loud participated in the 2005 event in Washington with its second original script about sexual violence against youth. The scripts focused on sexual abuse of the young, the aftermath of abuse, which include dealing with eating problems, depression, suicide, belief and non-belief around disclosure, getting help and speaking out. The workshops and shows were a great success.
Youth Out Loud organized the first ever in Canada, Walk To Stop Child Sexual Abuse, at Nathan Phillips Square in 2006! The event was a full day journey that included speakers, performers, info booths, art making and an art/poetry display by youth and ended with a very loud walk through the city streets of Toronto where "Stop Child Sexual Abuse", was chanted all the way from beginning to end of the 4K; the beginning of a new movement!
Joanne has gone into a couple of high schools to talk about child sexual abuse and has had tables at different events in the city, trying to spread awarness about the epidemic - sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse is a pervasive form of violence that continues to be an invisible issue. As difficult as it is to think about, child sexual abuse IS an epidemic. At least one in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen. We need to find a way to break this cycle of violence and protect our youth. We intend to keep making our presence known and to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
Though the focus so far has been on violence against youth, the goals for Youth Out Loud are diverse and we will be doing a lot of work in different areas including, writing, art, theater, outreach and more, as stated in the GOALS page.
One step at a time.