DALLAS - One North Texas woman has come up with a special way to help kids speak for themselves.
Genie Lopez is helping South Dallas teenagers blossom. Lopez, considered the first female Christian rap artist, has developed a program that teaches the skill of creative writing through rap and poetry.
It gives them a voice, she said. And when their words come out and they're on paper and they've shared with other people in the group, just the look on their faces - 'Wow, I'm smart; wow, I wrote that,' she said.
Lopez works with the teenagers through Buckner Child and Family Services once a week at the Simari Ridge Apartments. Writing and reading their own poetry allows the teens a chance to express themselves, and they love it.
It's a lot of teenagers coming together, said Brandy Henderson, a participant. Everyone is participating; everyone is having a good time. No one is out on the streets doing things that our peers our doing.
Working with the teenagers is very personal for Lopez. She says she does it in part to honor her brother, a gang interventionist who was killed in a Dallas carjacking in 1990.
Coming back working with inner-city kids, I feel I've conquered my fears and I'm back where I belong and where I brought a piece of my brother with me, she said. He's in my heart every single time.