SUNRISE, Fla. – Sunrise Sports & Entertainment announced today that the Florida Panthers have teamed up with Jason Taylor, current ESPN analyst and former All-Pro linebacker/defensive end for the Miami Dolphins, and actor and poet Omari Hardwick to host the inaugural bluapple Poetry Network and Leadership Conference at the BB&T Center from 8 am – 5 pm on Saturday, March 16.
The spoken word poetry program is designed to inspire, motivate and empower young people in South Florida. The Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network is available to students attending public high schools in Broward County, the sixth-largest school district in the nation.
Blu Bailey and Omari Hardwick as well as poets from across South Florida will come together for workshops and performances during the conference. Workshops include lessons in theme writing, social media etiquette, memorization and stage fright, peer pressures and preventions, college preparation and poetry slam. The event is open to teachers and students of the bluapple Poetry network.
This multi-faceted, after-school program is the latest collaborative effort between the Jason Taylor Foundation and the School Board of Broward County’s Department of Diversity, Cultural Outreach and Prevention. The bluapple Poetry Network has been created to build a community of young people across the county who will develop and utilize critical literary skills and self expression, both written and through performance, as a vehicle for prevention, social activism and change, ultimately empowering young people, the schools they attend and the communities in which they live. Taylor and Hardwick originally developed a pilot program for the football star’s after-school literacy initiative, the Jason Taylor Reading Room, and the two are building upon that concept in an effort to impact more youth.
“We are constantly looking for innovative ways to reach and inspire these kids, and Omari and I both feel that Spoken Word is a perfect fit given its obvious ties to literacy and just how empowering of an art form it is,” explained Taylor. “We are grateful that the School Board of Broward County has bought in completely by partnering with us on this project, and we hope for this Network to make a huge impact in our schools.”
“I have always dreamed of a landscape of young poet soldiers swinging their words like swords to cut through the pains of their lives,” expressed Hardwick. “Thanks to Jason, his Foundation, Seth Levit and the School Board of Broward County, in partnership with yours humbly & truly, my dream has become a reality!”
The Omari Hardwick bluapple Poetry Network is moderated by Blu Bailey, Director of the Jason Taylor Foundation’s bluapple Poetry Corner and Founder and Director of Spoken Word Press, an organization dedicated to reaching youth across boundaries of age, race, class, genders and cultures through poetry. Bailey’s dynamic curriculum will be shared with teachers from nearly 30 schools across the district.
“The Florida Panthers and the BB&T Center are honored to work with the Jason Taylor Foundation to host the inaugural bluapple Poetry Network and Leadership Conference,” said SSE President Michael R. Yormark. “As an organization we pride ourselves on supporting the South Florida community and this wonderful event is just another example of that commitment.”
Sunrise Sports & Entertainment is the premier company of its kind in South Florida. Florida Panthers social media is powered by Ford. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Home to the Florida Panthers Hockey Club and internationally recognized concerts and events, the Broward County-owned BB&T Center is one of the top ranked venues of its kind in the world.