An art and writing program of interest

Reclaiming Futures, an organization which works to involve local communities in teen advocacy and intervention work, shared an article about a program called The Beat Within, which “provid[es] incarcerated youth with a forum where they can write (and draw) about the things that matter most to them, explore how they have lost connection with those things they value, and consider how they might re-connect to positive situations in their lives through the power of the written word.”

Like all of us who are part of the JDC library, from the JDC staff to the community partners to the librarians to the volunteers to the book donors and everyone in between, the people behind The Beat Within believe in the power of creative expression to positively impact the lives of youth. As author David Inocencio writes:

…it is the workshops that are the heart of what The Beat Within is all about. To encourage the kids to write and to draw, we begin with a conversation about issues affecting them and how they can make connections between their personal life and the larger community.

Our volunteers package up all of these writings and artwork and submit them for publication in The Beat’s bi-weekly magazine. Every kid who writes receives feedback on their work. When the issue comes out, well, even the young people who might have been suspicious and even hostile applaud when they listen to each other’s writings during the workshops, as well as when they are reading the many entries featured in each issue.

We encourage, through the power of the pencil and paper, for the writing and the art to come from the heart; and that they do!

During these difficult times, we want our contributors to use the art and writing as the light of hope and inspiration. Both channels are therapeutic, meditative, and provide a discipline.

Through art and writing, contributors find this forum as a safe place to reflect on their lives, their current state, as well as dream of a better future. Their work reveals the pride, the pain and insecurities, the fears, and the knowledge, that informs and gives us admirers of The Beat insight of what young people are truly dealing with at this moment in time.

Read the full article for more information and to see examples of the artwork youth have produced as part of this program. It’s nice to be reminded that our work is part of a larger (informal) network of programs around the country that try to improve the lives and futures of incarcerated youth.

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One Comment on “An art and writing program of interest”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Thank you for sharing our work with your community. We would love to talk to you about ways we can get our publication into more hands – libraries, schools, and CBOs.


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