ATLANTA — You’ve heard the phrase "life’s real education happens outside the classroom."
A new youth passport initiative is working to open up the walls of classrooms in metro Atlanta schools and put students' education in hi-def.
From the looks of carefully curated Instagram photos, modern-day travel is all about the flex and the flash. But there are some travelers working toward a purpose to fulfill the international travel dreams of these students at KIPP Ways Academy in Atlanta.
“I want to go to Australia," states one student.
“I would love to go to France," said another.
"I would want to go to ancient Kemet, also known as Egypt,” said a third.
But first they need a passport. That’s where the Artful Journey Project comes in.
"We’re just starting at the ground floor in hopes of building a future of global citizens who are just empowered to think and spread the message and create for the world," explains Lekeith Taylor, formerly of the Gathering Spot.
He launched the project Thursday, Nov. 7. It’s a youth passport initiative that will partner with KIPP. By creating and selling artwork and merchandise, the project will fund the passports of 50 students selected through an application process. Eventually the project will take them on trips.
"I really want the kids to receive their passports and see them as social currency," Taylor says.
He is a seasoned traveler now, having been to more than 20 countries. But he didn’t get his passport until he was 25.
Over the last 30 years the number of U.S. citizens holding a passport has increased, but the majority of Americans still don’t have one. Taylor believes through travel, the students will gain a broader understanding of the world and themselves.
"Once I was able to travel the world, it completely changed my life personally and professionally," he said.
Principal Nathaniel Snyder hopes his students get to bring their classroom studies to life with a trip to west Africa. Students spend an entire year studying the region. He believes getting the passports would enrich their futures.
"Education doesn’t just have a start and end time to it," he says. "It’s every interaction that kids have."
Students will be selected for the program from essay applications. The Artful Journey project will have four art shows in their first year to raise money for the passports.