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“No” to Drugs – and “Yes” to Artful Fun

Youth for Jerusalem is putting a Palestinian “fingerprint” on homegrown arts and sciences, giving young people an active role in their communities and protecting them from self-destructive habits.

Since 2010, the non-profit has been promoting creativity and cultural heritage, and even their efforts at preventing addiction have a creative edge. A recent campaign against drug abuse launched this November used comedy theater to make its point, with performers including the Basta Band, a debke showcase by the Nerd Group for performing arts and folklore, and a clown show for kids by Basma Tafl, or “a child’s smile”.

To spread the word, youth groups, volunteers and students then took to the streets under the banner “Apple vs. cigarette”, bringing the health vs. harm message to the wider community.

The project was organized in cooperation with university women from Caritas Jerusalem and the Palestine Film Commission, which screened an anti-drug film and panel discussion at the University of Bethlehem.

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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