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BEVERLY — For the past 25 years, Express Yourself, an award-winning, Beverly-based youth arts program, has provided joy to thousands of the most at-risk and vulnerable youth diagnosed with mental illness. On May 23, Express Yourself will celebrate its 25th anniversary performance at the Boch Center Wang Theatre in Boston, with surprise guests and gala fanfare.
Leading up to the EXYO25 spring show, a series of silver anniversary open house celebrations are held at the Express Yourself studios at the Cummings Center. The second “Friendraiser” for more than 100 supporters and guests was Feb. 9. Performing was surprise guest star, 16-year-old Amanda Mena, a 2018 “America’s Got Talent” semi-finalist who lives in Lynn. Mena, who received a coveted “Golden Buzzer” from Judge Mel B on the TV show, will also be performing in the upcoming May production in Boston.
Mena wowed the cheering crowd with three songs, including “Natural Woman” and “Proud Mary,” alongside Stan Strickland and the Express Yourself Band.
The Express Yourself’s 25th anniversary $125,000 fundraising campaign has raised nearly $50,000, with four months to go.
Anniversary festivities will continue April 25, when the Greater Beverly Chamber of Commerce co-hosts its spring “After Hours” gathering.
Express Yourself immerses young people in the arts, where they find a powerful tool for self-expression, uncover inner strength, and a deeper connection with others.
Its population includes:
- Approximately 80 percent of performance participants (ages 5-21) who have been in residential or inpatient psychiatric treatment
- All are at high risk of suicide
- 80 percent are low-income
- 96 percent have a documented disability
- Most have experienced serious trauma and loss, are isolated and stigmatized by their illness, and excluded from activities that most youth and families enjoy