MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Inside the art covered walls of YouthLink lies a refuge — a safe place for youth with nowhere to call home.

Allison’s Wesley’s mom kicked her out at 14. She said it forced her to grow up fast.

“You don’t get time to be a child or have fun,” Wesley said. “You’re always worried about like … where are you going to eat, where are you going to sleep.”

Corey Blevins was homeless at 16. She, too, discovered that typical adolescent concerns quickly became trivial.

“I did a lot of couch hoping and sometimes would stay in emergency shelters here and there,” he said.

While living on the street, both young women found Youth Link and its host of resources, including the art focused Kulture Klub Collaborative. Their latest project, a series of empowering self-portraits.

“This portrait would explain the boldness in me … The lion in me,” said Blevins, of her self-portrait hanging among others in one of Kulture Klub’s art spaces.

Homeless youth who come to Kulture Klub can flex their creative muscle in many different ways. From a newspaper to magazines full of art and poetry. There’s even a recording studio where youth can make their own albums.

“(It’s) somewhere you can just go and do what normal people do. Go to plays, hangout write poetry, take pictures,” Wesley said.

But programs like Kulture Klub rely on money, both private and public, to keep pointing homeless youth toward a better life. Advocates hope lawmakers will pass a better funded Homeless Youth Act.

Right now the state allocates about $240,000 for the homeless youth act. Organizations like Youth Link say that number needs to be closer to $8 million.


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