This session shares a range of media and theater exercises, including storytelling, scenes and interviews, to bring participants on a journey of emotional exploration, as seen through the lens of justice-involved youth. From witnessing the work of a youth artist and activist working with a grassroots theater company to understanding how the arts can address larger, statewide system change, this session focuses on the value of a creative youth development approach with system-impacted youth. Session participants will learn about the work of theater company Everett Company Stage and School and their collaborative approach to working with Massachusetts’ juvenile justice agency, the Department of Youth Services. Participants will explore methods of using the arts in addressing trauma histories, while simultaneously capitalizing on youth strengths and resiliency by providing avenues for youth to be agents of change in their own lives. Presenters also discuss the statewide arts initiative of Massachusetts DYS, where the arts contribute to systems change through a multi-tiered arts education approach including arts residencies, mentorships, public showcasing of youth success and engagement of adults and youth in arts-based, professional development across the juvenile justice spectrum. Participants will leave the session with a better understanding of how, even in highly controlled juvenile justice settings, the power of art can create a new space for healing.
Katie Cohn, Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS)
Prince Nwankwo, Artist, Director and Activist
Access additional 2021 AEP Virtual Gathering resources here.