Youngsters call it "Luv Boat" or "Lovely." It is PCP or phencyclidine, an increasingly popular drug choice among youths in the District and a main focus of Rap Inc.'s summer program using poetry and art to combat drug abuse.
"PCP is becoming more and more popular among the youth," said Ron Clark, executive director of Rap Inc., a nonprofit drug education and rehabilitation program. Clark said he has noticed the preference for PCP among 15- and 16-year-olds for about a year.
"Are you tough enough to be drug free?" challenged the slogan for Rap's pilot Citywide Drug Prevention Project, in which 22 youths aged 16 to 21 spent several weeks studying and writing poetry and designing educational graphics on drug abuse. Participants in the workshops, which ended last Friday, were hired through the Mayor's Summer Youth Program and were paid the minimum wage of $3.35 an hour.
The pilot project conducted at Rap Inc.'s office in a row house at 1770 Church St. NW was designed to educate the city's youth about drugs and provide positive alternatives. Rap officials said plans are under way to publish the workshop artwork and writings as a book.
In the creative writing workshops, which began July 25, 15 youngsters met in weekly three-hour sessions to read and study poetry and write antidrug poems and lyrics. They also worked in Rap's resident building for former drug abusers and criminal offenders, located at 1731 Willard St. NW, as receptionists, photography assistants and audio-visual aides.
Gaston Neal, founder of the now-defunct New School of Afro-American Thought in the 1960s and a poet of some note, headed the writing workshop.
The graphic arts sessions that began July 5 included seven artists aged 16 to 21.
Clark said he disapproves of "hard-core right-wing programs" to combat drug abuse. "I grew up on tough love in the '60s. And my generation was full of dope addicts and hippies," Clark said. "It takes intelligent love to educate, liberate and teach them to live in this world."
"We educate them about drugs and make them demonstrate what they learn," said artist Malik Edwards, who headed the graphic arts workshop.
One art student, William Rivers, 16, made a drawing of what he called "PCP Men" surrounded by a cloud of smoke. In it, figures resembling marijuana cigarettes have landed from outer space in search of a victim.
"There is a fear factor and ugliness in most of the drawings," said Paul Clark, 18, an art student and son of Ron Clark. He said the drawings are usually dark and ominous in keeping with the deadly reality of drug abuse.
Rap's project for the summer included production of antidrug public service announcements for television and an antidrug dramatic production by the drama group, whose members live in the resident building. Rap has scheduled a Drug-Free Street Festival for Sunday, from noon to 8 p.m. in the 1700 block of Willard Street NW.
Funding for Rap's summer project, approximately $20,000, came from the District office of health planning and development, and from private donations.
"No matter what it takes, it is a small amount for what has come out of this," Ron Clark said.