NORFOLK VA (June 11, 2022) Purpose Park is the safe, inclusive, and accessible, green space developed by Teens With a Purpose. It was also the site for the 10th annual FUSE FEST, promoting peace, unity, spirit, and edutainment in Norfolk’s St. Paul’s Quadrant, for over 2000 people.
The land the festival space was built upon once was a half-acre vacant gravel lot full of broken glass and soaked in sadness before youth, TWP staff, volunteers, and partners had envisioned this oasis. They invested thousands of hours of sweat equity into developing Purpose Park. This placemaking/peacemaking space is more than an idea – it’s a ongoing process that aims to change people’s attitudes and behavior, and to transform dynamics between individuals and groups in order to achieve peaceful coexistence with fruit, flowers, herb, veggies and even a goldfish pond as their tranquil gathering space.
According to the University of Virginia Health System, green space can help reduce violent crime. Couple that fact with proven evidence that art & performance has the power to prevent crime. Through music, drama, dance, and visual arts, young people can draw attention to problems in their communities, educate others on the benefits of crime prevention, and suggest ways to prevent crime. Fuse Fest provided cross-generational opportunities for youth and adults to create art with messages of healing, they honored those lost to gun violence & COVID-19 through art creation. The event included various art forms, from 10-minute skits by youth with a mental health awareness message from youth, rap to gospel music, murals to musical compositions including a joint performance by Teens With a Purpose and The Virginia Symphony; there was poetry with powerful messages from Hampton Roads Youth Poet Laureate Ayana Askew and the Hampton Roads Youth Poets including a poem by Daquan Garnett about his personal encounters with gun violence, —all to promote peace and the prevention of crime and gun violence.
I Used to be Angry
I used to be angry – Why?
I was bullied
They jumped me; They threatened me,
I was across the street from the garden
The one I go to,
to plant seeds and help the plants grow
One of them had locs like me
They chased me
It ended when I got back home
They threatened me
- With a gun
I was thinking
why can’t I do stuff on my own
Why did they pick me
Out of everyone else
I felt pain in my arm
I felt pain in my body & my heart
Weak- like – hurt
Hurt in my body; hurt in my heart
I used to be angry
because I was bullied – Now
I hang out with people who love me – Now Im happy
So if you ask me
Id tell you
Find friends that actually care
In its 10th year Fuse Fest is a big part of TWP-The Youth Movements formula for peace. They know how to combine love and soccer, hope with Reiki healing, and hip-hop MC Olympics with a fierce Community African Dance session; All created for, with, and by the people, all the people.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety, Norfolk Police Department, Churches, Schools, Museums, Government leaders, National & local artists, large and small organizations, and individuals plus the families next door all FUSING demonstrating the power of collective Community to care for one another as we share culture and dismantle false narratives and unhealthy practices through Peace-Making programs.
The orange Fuse Fest t-shirt exhibited solidarity with the Wear Orange National weekend June 5 – 7 for an end to gun violence and TWP partners Moms Demand Action, Norfolk & Virginia Beach and celebrated Norfolk Mayor Dr. Kenneth Alexander’s proclamation naming Friday, June 3rd, 2022 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day for the City of Norfolk. Wear Orange began on June 2, 2015—what would have been Hadiya Pendleton’s 18th birthday after she was shot and killed on a Chicago playground. Today, Wear Orange honors Hadiya and the more than 110 Americans shot and killed every day.
Teens With a Purpose (TWP) is a non-profit organization, with over 26 years of experience in Creative Youth Development. TWP curates & delivers events, workshops, and curriculums. Located in Norfolk Virginia, TWP offers year-round programming to under-resourced youth in the surrounding community called The St. Paul’s Quadrant in the only dedicated Teen Center in the City, fully staffed and run by TWP. Providing original Creative Youth Development programming TWP facilitators, performing artists and contributing artists engage in the genres of Performance Poetry; Music & music production, Urban Gardening, Place Making, Digital Production, Visual Art, Space-making, and Yoga.
Sponsors City of Norfolk, Virginia Arts Festival, Everytown USA, Cricket Wireless, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Capital Group, GEICO, Stihl Inc., NEON, Virginia MOCA, Charles Johnson
Collaborative Partners Norfolk Police, Moms Demand Action, WPA, Chrysler Museum, Helping Kids Teen America, Bridge Summer Camp, NAACP, S.A.G., Virginia Department of Health, Hot91, Rec League, Reiki Taylor, Street Soccer, Uncs Politicking Podcast, Utopia Feni, Slover Library, Creative Reuse Center, Newman Fitness Foundation, Auntie Advocate, Gethsemane Community Baptist Church, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc & many other community groups and organizations
Event History, Zones & Artists 10th Anniversary of Fuse Fest, powered by Teens With a Purpose, is FREE and welcoming for all ages, all people! FUSE Fest celebrates Life & Culture. This year’s theme “Moments That Matter” encourages everyone to be present, and grateful for everyone and every moment. The event takes place on Wear Orange, National weekend for an end to gun violence. The Festival includes national & local performing artists, with three stages, interactive arts, local arts & crafts vendors, dance & yoga, field games, and more! June 4th, 2022 | 12-6 pm, located at 801 Church Street. Fest is a celebration of Norfolk’s Urban life, the heart of St. Paul Community in Norfolk through this intergenerational experience. Fuse Fest’s transformative community celebration honors its people and culture. This interactive event originated in 2013 when Councilman Paul Riddick invited Teens With a Purpose to create several summer community events that would engage the entire community. Hence, FUSE Fest has blossomed from being held on the grounds of the Vivian C. Mason Center to now also encompassing Purpose Park and The Martin Luther King Plaza on Church Street.
This year’s expansion included three stages, new local and national partners. The event was also live streamed.
- JOY, MAIN STAGE @Purpose Park – Inspirational, Reggae, R&B, Neo Soul, Gospel, Spoken Word, & Line Dancing
- CULTURE CORNER, @Teen Mermaid at the Vivian C Mason Arts & Technology Center – African, Indigenous & Step Dance Groups, Cultural Presentations & More
- FUTURE, TEEN/HIP HOP STAGE @Backyard at Vivian C Mason Arts & Technology Center – Teen curated performers, dance, rap battle, and music listening session with local artists addressing violence in music
- HEAL – Comfort & Self Care, Mindfulness, Meditation, Therapeutic Massages, Natural oil and Herb education, Health screenings, Eye exams, and COVID Home tests will be distributed and other trauma mitigating experiences & techniques including Moms Demand Action
- Hope Cafe – Healthy & Tasty Food Trucks from local small businesses. Participants will receive free food for participating in empowerment workshops, voter registrations and health screenings., yoga
- The Village – Local Handmade Arts & Crafts from the innovators right in our community including Utopia Feni
- Art Making – Featuring Reckoning Our History Exhibit and activities with Chrysler Museum & Virginia MOCA with lead artist Chris Green; Community Moments That Matter Mural
- ENERGY Zone – youth and adult movement, games and giveaways – Norfolk Police Department Food, Ice cream Truck, Linda Devine, Street United, Rec League.
- WISDOM Zone- Games and activities for the Elders, with view of the stage with partners Seniors Aging Gracefully, NAACP, Anthem, VDH
- GROW Garden Zone – Plants, Take Home Kits & More with partners Norfolk Botanical Gardens and Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Empowerment Workshops – Juvenile Justice Reform, Gun & Violence Prevention, Diversity & more
- CREATE – Art Making, Live Art, an interactive art collage of photos of people and happy memories – the ones we want to last a lifetime!
- Resource providers, Voter Registration & Rights Restoration, Medicaid, free haircuts & more