By: Olivia Walker
Founded in 2009 by Prairie, Inc., New Voices has begun over 50 programs around Cincinnati for high schools and community centers. For the past five years, Mariemont High School has participated in the program, led by David Rosenthal, owner of Prairie and founder of New Voices, and MHS advisor, Kim Richardson, an art teacher at Mariemont High School.
New Voices’ purpose is to connect disparate groups around Cincinnati, and give voice to those who are generally forgotten, or marginalized. In the past Mariemont has been paired with members of the Alzheimer unit at Hyde Park Health Center, the Boys and Girls Club in Avondale, and the Wesley Chapel Mission Center in OTR. This year the club has partnered with the Madisonville Rec Center and the local kids who go there after school.
Each Madisonville child has partnered with a couple of Mariemont students to create art and learn about each other’s lives. Every Monday the club meets at the Rec Center to take pictures, film videos, play outside, make crafts, and explore the community. The students build relationships with one another and form friendships that often continue after the program has finished. According to David Rosenthal, he continues working with Mariemont High School because he loves watching the students “connecting in ways they didn’t think they could and connecting with people they didn’t think they would otherwise”.
For the Mariemont students, New Voices is especially valuable, due to the “Mariemont Bubble”, which is a term coined by students that refers to the privilege and safety that covers our community. New Voices allows students to leave the ‘bubble’ and recognize other lifestyles in our city. As teacher Kim Richardson states, “It’s important for our students to give back to communities they don’t live in. It makes our students more aware… We’re making a difference.”
The experience is also special for the Madisonville kids. Every Monday when the high schoolers come to the Rec Center, their faces light up and they all rush to give their partners a hug. Macy Bruner, Mariemont High School student, says that Mondays are her favorite part of the week. As a first-year member, when asked what New Voices means to her, Macy responded “I love coming here and making memories. I want to come next year and I wish I did earlier. I think it’s beautiful that relationships are building and it’s a beautiful day.”
New Voices has inspired a love of photography in the Madisonville children; Kevin Moseby, one of the kids at the Rec Center, says that he comes every Monday to “be here with the high schoolers and to take pictures and to do crafts.” For many of the students, both from Madisonville and Mariemont, New Voices is their favorite part of the week.
New Voices connects communities all over Cincinnati, providing new experiences and discussions for groups who might never have met before.