Alex Moroz is the founder and director of the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center Arts Project in Illinois. Please contact Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to learn more, read his previous blog post, and visit the program website at www.ccjdcartsproject.weebly.com.
Next week, nine students at the University of Illinois will be providing arts experiences to incarcerated youth at the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center as part of a university course (FAA391 Section JBN). This course, also known as Arts Experiences for Incarcerated Students, is designed to promote service learning and action research among university students. The first two weeks of the 16-week curriculum serve as training weeks, in which U of I students receive an orientation to the facility and learn how to design arts activities in correctional contexts. The rest of the semester consists of implementing restorative practices through music, visual art, and theater activities to benefit the community and explore alternative forms of arts education.
This course is based on a previously existing program, the CCJDC Arts Project, and it uses a specific approach to arts education. Our philosophy is that the arts can provide inspiration and increase self-esteem by enabling youth to experience success. The overall experience is bolstered by three equal parts – our teachers, our activities, and our youth – and each part plays a unique role within the experience. We believe that our teachers must be excitable and encouraging, our activities must be fun and set students up for success, and our young participants must be empowered to make choices and express their identities. If these standards are met, then our youth are likely to receive multiple benefits through arts engagement.
Thank you to all of you who have practiced and researched the arts in correctional contexts. This course would not have been created without the help of your work. Please contact me if you have any questions or leave a comment below.