I am a teaching-artist with the Youth Arts: Unlocked program in Flint, MI. We work with justice-involved youth in the local juvenile detention center as well as when they are on probation, in alternative schools. We are contracted by the city of Flint to teach arts programming to them.
We offer everything from Spoken Word to Visual Arts, with the V.A. program for the girls' wing of the juvenile detention facility being the newest addition to our programming.
My colleague and myself are the girls' V.A. teachers, as well as for the kids on probation at Gear Up. We have found that our kids have a hard time motivating themselves to do creative projects, as they have not always been encouraged to "think outside the box" (sometimes quite literally when they are incarcerated).
In an effort to encourage participation, we had the kids brainstorm what a good motivating incentive could be and they came up with: a mural.
They love doing the art classes in school, with us, but when they leave sometimes their connection with art goes away. Their idea was to paint a mural in the community of their school so that they could see it every day, and feel pride in their creativity as a group.
I feel that this will maximize their involvement in the program, which is not only good for us, but good for them, as well as good for the community when they are not out re-offending.
The kids decided that anyone who participates in the majority of our classes this summer would be eligible to work on the mural in the fall. It is our hope that we will be able to fund this with grants, as our supplies come out of pocket as sub-contracted employees.
Funded by Ann Arbor, MI (September 2019)