Local Youth will have the opportunity to shine on stage in a local talent showcase sponsored by the Catch Them Young Performing Arts Program (CTY) on Oct. 9 at Mary Virginia Merrick Center.

Joy Stevenson, CTY’s president, said the talent show also serves as an introduction to a broader program targeting the city’s youngest residents. “Youth that participate in the event are provided an opportunity to join the CTY Program, which provides a number of programs and services using cultural arts and the performing arts as the lynchpin for youth throughout the city,” said Stevenson in a statement.

In addition, Stevenson said the program includes career counseling, life-skills, mentoring, tutoring and college preparation, which are of particular importance because of cuts in city-sponsored recreational programs. Stevenson also cited the growing number of youths involved in gangs and the deaths of nine D.C. children and teens last summer as inspiration for the program. “It’s our effort to get our children back on the right track,” said Stevenson, a graduate of Duke Ellington High School and a Potomac Job Corps staff member. “Our program and other programs across the nation have proven that hip hop and the lure and dream of being involved in the arts can make a discernible difference in giving many disadvantaged youth the inspiration and motivation to use their creative gifts in a positive way. Even if they can’t be on camera, there are a lot of great careers they can be a part of off camera. That’s our goal, to teach and to inspire them to do something positive.”

Catch Them Young (CTY) is a 501c3 non-profit organization of excellence serving youth in the Washington Metropolitan Area. With the proliferation of youth gang violence, teen drug use, sexual behavior, internet addiction and other negative societal ills.

The Mary Virginia Merrick Center is located at 4275 Fourth St., S.E. For more information visit catchthemyoung.org.