Sharing the Dangers of Texting while Driving through Poetry

20 Feb 2015 | José Vadi

Tagged: People, Responsible Use of Technology,

In collaboration with AT&T’s It Can Wait® campaign, Youth Speaks is engaging the young people and local organizations of our national Brave New Voices (BNV) network around the dangers of texting while driving. Texting while driving is estimated to be involved in 200,000+ vehicle crashes each year, often causing injuries and deaths.This issue particularly impacts youth, which is why we’re getting involved and working with teens to talk about the risks through their own words.

Youth Speaks aims to deconstruct dominant narratives in hopes of achieving a more inclusive and active culture. Believing that young people have the tools to take control of their lives through language, we encourage youth to express themselves using their own vernacular. Youth Speaks is pleased to play a conduit role between four BNV Network organizations and It Can Wait.

Believing that young people have the tools to take control of their lives through language, we encourage youth to express themselves using their own vernacular.

Using educational tools and statistics provided by the It Can Wait campaign, our BNV partners submitted proposals to host events in their local communities to engage and educate young people about the risks of texting and driving.

After receiving submissions from throughout our national Brave New Voices network, we are pleased to announce that the four finalists for the campaign are:

  • Get Lit: Get Lit is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing the power of poetic expression to at-risk teens in and around Los Angeles County through a standards-based curriculum, fusing classic literature and poetry with contemporary spoken word performance techniques. Get Lit will hold a series of poetry workshops and an open mic to feature the work of top youth poets.
  • MassLEAP Collective: The Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance Collective – also known as MassLEAP – is dedicated to building and supporting spaces for youth to experience the transformative power of their own voices in community with one another. MassLEAP will host a series of poetry writing workshops in communities around Amherst, MA.
  • Word Beats & Life: Words Beats & Life offers free, vocational arts programming for youth in the District of Columbia. Word Beats & Life will host four workshops with spoken word poets to create poems, rap songs and video PSAs, as well as school based performances.
  • WITS: Writers in Schools (WITS) engages youth in the power of reading and writing. WITS will develop a series of performance poetry workshops and presentations in schools.

Stay tuned for more updates throughout early 2015! Want to follow our national conversation? Follow @ItCanWait and @YouthSpeaks and take the It Can Wait pledge against texting while driving at To learn more about Youth Speaks, please visit

1National Safety Council, Annual Estimate of Cell Phone Crashes 2012.

About the Author

José Vadi

National Digital Programs Director at Youth Speaks


José Vadi is a writer, performer and educator living in Oakland, California. José is currently the National Digital Programs Director of Youth Speaks – the nation’s leading literary nonprofit – and since the age of nineteen, José has served as a Poet Mentor for the organization. A two-time National Poetry Slam champion, José has coached several college and youth slam poetry teams to national competitions, including the 2008 and 2010 Bay Area Youth Speaks teams featured in the HBO documentary series, Brave New Voices. He was the recipient of the San Francisco Foundation’s Shenson Performing Arts Award for his debut play, A Eulogy for Three, produced at Intersection for the Arts under the curation of Marc Bamuthi-Joseph’s Living Word Festival. Since 2010, José has served as the Editor and Curriculum Developer of The Bigger Picture, an anti-diabetes multimedia campaign sponsored by UC San Francisco’s Center for Vulnerable Populations. José has performed and taught at colleges and detention facilities throughout the country, including Colby College, the University of Georgia at Athens, UC Berkeley, George Washington University, and San Quentin Penitentiary. José recently completed his MFA in Creative Non-Fiction at Mills College and has since been published by the Huffington Post, Colorlines, and Gigantic Mag. From 2012-2014, José served as the inaugural project director of the Off/Page Project, a collaboration between Youth Speaks and The Center for Investigative Reporting.

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