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Youngstown, OH

Project Uncaged + Sarabande in Youth Detention

Our unique project brings together "Project Uncaged," Metro Louisville Youth Detention Services (YDS), Sarabande books, and UofL's Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky (CIK) to provide trauma-informed, arts-based programming for girls in juvenile detention while amplifying girls' voices in local policymaking, media, & research.

In the U.S., girls are taken into custody primarily for running away, truancy, and substance use: 3 of the most common symptoms of abuse. Girls are also more likely than boys to have been victims of sexual assault and to have mental illness diagnoses. Unfortunately, the juvenile justice system struggles to adequately meet girls' needs.

In response, Tasha Golden began in 2012 to develop a research-based curriculum, "Project Uncaged," that offers gender-responsive programming while forging creative opportunities for girls to inform local decisions. Having conducted programs in OH and IN, she began running week-long intensives in YDS in 2016.

In 2017, Golden partnered with Sarabande Books to publish an anthology of poetry from YDS girls, available online & at Carmichael's. The book was mailed with customized action steps to Louisville judges, the Mayor's office, local/state legislators, and community leaders.

Because YDS is striving to improve programming, they requested that Project Uncaged operate in YDS on an ongoing basis in 2018. So Project Uncaged again partnered with Sarabande Books; we now run twice-weekly workshops in YDS as part of girls' JCPS school day. Workshops teach expressive writing, poetry, songwriting, and coping skills while providing group discussion, mentoring relationships, and true local influence via publication & amplification.

Our project received coverage from WFPL & Louisville Mag, with promise of even more public connection via upcoming events. Workshops will result in more Sarabande books, program evaluation by CIK, & analysis of girls' writing to help the city recognize girls' assets & needs.

Funded by Louisville, KY (June 2018)