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‘A safe space to do activism’: 13-year-old dance prodigy uses art for activism, hopes to inspire more young voices

Hobbs Waters is a dancer, musician, and artist. He’s using his platform to start the Collective Youth Elevation, giving youth a safe space for social activism.

PORTLAND, Ore — As the rallying cry for racial justice continues on streets across the country young people are often leading the charge for change. Portland teenager Hobbs Waters is one of many raising his voice for social reform.

The 13-year-old is an artist in every sense of the word. He is a dancer, recreational musician, and visual artist.

Credit: Hobbs Waters

“There’s just so many different things and so many different aspects that I really appreciate about all the different pursuits that I do,” Waters said.

Waters has made a name for himself in the dance world, gaining recognition since he was just seven years old. He’s trained in ballet, contemporary, jazz, and more. He is currently a student at Steps PDX Academy.

Credit: Hobbs Waters

Along with his love and talent as a musician and visual artist, Waters is an artist entrepreneur. He founded his own urban lifestyle brand City Troll, LLC in 2016.

“Art and dance have influenced all the other amazing pursuits that I do today,” he said. “Being able to elevate myself and support myself and that’s where my entrepreneurship comes in.”

The teen’s work is awe-inspiring and moving, but its purpose is not only to be beautiful, it is meant to evoke emotion and change.

“I think it’s super critical when we talk about social reform that every voice is represented,” Waters said.

In his piece, ‘Abuse/ The Castration of the Onyx Pigmentation’ he describes the work as, “A very immediate symbolic representation of exploitation of black proficiency and black prosperity.”

Credit: Hobbs Waters

Waters says he has always tried to use his platform for social reform, but now he is taking it a step further hoping to inspire more young people to make their voices heard.

“It’s really critical to have a safe space where we can have younger kids, specifically my peers. That being 15 and under, have a safe space to do activism work,” he said.

Waters is launching Collective Youth Elevation to provide just that: a space for the future generation to have a say in the decisions happening at our state and nation capitals.

“We are trying to influence youth to create reform by writing to bureaucracy, and that’s digital letters, physical letters,” Waters said.

He already has 500 donated envelopes with stamps ready for letters to lawmakers on police reform and racial equity.

Hobbs is using his art as a means for change and he wants to help others find their voice as well.

“Activism…it’s a very broad conversation and it looks so different in many ways and I think everyone can contribute,” Waters said.

Collective Youth Elevation is in the process of applying to become an official 501C3 non-profit organization. Follow the group’s progress on Instagram at @collectiveyouthelevation or email them to learn more at info@collectiveyouthelevation.com

Check out his urban lifestyle brand at www.citytroll.com

You can also follow Hobbs Waters on Facebook and Instagram

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