Workshops teach kids how to express themselves in a healthy way

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

TEMPE -- The Dia De Los Niños/ Dia De Los Libros celebration of arts and literature Monday brought hundreds of Arizona students to the ASU campus in Tempe.

Students got to meet several authors and were inspired by them to learn how to express themselves. Performers, authors and poets were here to help students develop their own work, and the goal was to empower them.

"I got to meet a lot of new authors, and I got to hear some stories on what it's like to be an author," said Joey Bowman, a student at ASU Prep.

"It teaches people a lot about new authors and the other different cultures,” said Noelle Whipple, a student at ASU Prep.

Myrlin Hepworth is a poet and often raps his poetry. He mentors kids and said it's important to instill the power of words at a young age."My hope is that they use their voices," he said.

He encourages both written and spoken words.

Hepworth said he hopes kids learn public speaking by reading their work out loud, and then take that skill to the workforce.

"They'll break it down in the boardroom, on a job interview, in the classroom, in the courtroom, wherever they need to be," he said.

Most importantly, he said, they should find a way to channel their energy in a positive way.

For one teen it was therapeutic to recite her poem. She brought other students to tears when she shared something very close to her heart for the very first time in Hepworth’s workshop.

"I don't like to share because I don't want them to see me as breakable," said Sarah Lujan, an Agua Fria High School student.

But Lujan realized she's not alone that life happens to everyone, so for the first time, she shared her pain.

"The machines in the hospital room keeps hope. I'm tired of hurting. The smile on her face creates the light inside of me. I'm tired of living only if it means she cannot be here with me,” said Lujan as she recited her poem.

Lujan recently found out her mom has stage four breast cancer.

"It's been hard on me, and it's been hard on just living right now," she said.

Lujan said she's been keeping busy using dancing as an outlet. "She's going through chemo and just taking it one day at a time," she said.

But she just learned she can let it out in another form of art. "I’m ready to start healing. Every strand of hair will grow again," she said as she recited her poem.

It's exactly what Hepworth hopes students learn.

"It was good to let it out," said Lujan. "After I read it, it actually opened up my mind to actually talking about it more."

Lujan said she hopes to do more writing to express those emotions she's been feeling lately.