A Multimedia Immersion Into the Hearts and Minds of Incarcerated Youth
This will be the first comprehensive assemblage of the diverse artwork of youth incarcerated in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center outside of the center. Featured in this show will be publications, recordings, murals, digital images, posters, and ceramics produced by Free Write students.
Free Write Jail Arts & Literacy Program
The Free Write Jail Arts and Literacy Program at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center serves Illinois’ most vulnerable children. Our students are between the ages of 10 and 19 years and are awaiting trial, awaiting sentencing, or serving time in jail. We have students who, at age 16, read at a first-grade level. We also have students who stay up late at night, secretly composing poems on their cots. Students bring us autobiographies written on loose-leaf paper and poetry hidden in shoes and socks for privacy. Each of our students has a unique and powerful story to tell.
We believe that each of our students can become functionally literate, and many can become highly proficient as the narrators of their own stories and authors of their own futures. Literacy, creative self-expression and an understanding of their own social and cultural surroundings are key to overcoming the weighty obstacles each of these young people face.