Are you ready for a smART Program?
"Together, we can develop healthier attitudes and build positive behaviors."
LEXINGTON YOUTH smART PROGRAM
Immediate goal -increase art knowledge, and improve program-related skills like communication and cooperation
Intermediate goal -effect the behaviors that affect delinquency (improve self-esteem, improve thinking about drug use, increase the positive peer-adult associations)
Long-term goal -impact on juvenile delinquency (decreased court referrals and increased extra-curricular achievements)
Incarceration has been a problem for law enforcement for many years now. What troubles me the most, is how many young adults get caught up in jails, aren’t given much of a second change; and without much of an option -they get out and get thrown right back into the loop. My suggested project can provide Fayette County youth with new skills, give them the opportunity to use these skills, and can offer them positive feedback. By recognizing their hard work, we can potentially work towards developing healthier overall attitudes and building positive behaviors for down the road.
Prison art programs are not necessarily a brand new idea; but to this day, they still aren’t implemented across the country. Although some of these projects and workshops take place in prisons, I think they would be much more effective if they were offered at juvenile detention centers -to address the issue before the individual gets themselves in even deeper trouble in the future. These diversion programs can include many art forms from learning to work with various art materials, creative writing and making things with their hands. Art comes in many forms, and it’s only fair to design this project as a combined, multi-disciplinary art program.
Art may be produced by young adults in the juvenile detention center, the art may also be produced by people outside the jails. This includes former prisoners working with artists to explore issues in criminal justice. Volunteers, troubled individuals, professional artists, teachers, and jail staff are all integral to the success of the program.
The goal is to divert incarcerated youth (from a life in prison) to becoming productive community members through various, mentor-based, performing arts.
I strongly believe that young people have the right to learn from their mistakes, and that they should be encouraged to take responsibility for building a better future for themselves. I think that education is an important, and powerful, tool that we can use to help our youth transform their lives. Mentors will support their efforts, and hopefully we may help develop them into the positive members of society that we all know they’re actually capable of becoming.
Through this program, we want to teach the participants about street art and the graffiti phenomenon. Then we can talk about how people become graffiti artists, and we can educate students about different street art techniques.
What is urban culture and what are its goals?
How do artists “conquer” their “territory” in cities?
What does “tagging” mean and what does a “tag” represent?
With what special kind of creative energy is this kind of street art technique created?
How does a stencil graffiti differ from freehand graffiti?
Why do graffiti artists paint at night?
Why are trains or walls that are so high, and practically unreachable, preferred by artists?
What types of tricks are used?
In my eyes, success can only be measured once we hire the mentors that fit the bill. Individuals that have been caught up in the jail and prison systems. Individuals that these young adults can relate to. I would use Dani Greene, here as an example. Dani has painted over 400 murals across Fayette County. Although her newest pieces are picked up by large news reports; she is not afraid to admit that she has been caught tagging trains and spray-painting buildings in the past.. without permission. "It’s quick. It’s effective and it pays fairly well. Why pinstripe a car or airbrush a motorcycle (which may take days), where you can tag a train (in 45 minutes) and make twice as much?"
Fortunately, Dani was given a chance to prove herself, legally, in the public eye. I intend to use individuals like Dani to connect with our youth, get them outside of the juvenile detention center, and teach courses on using art in a beautifying way. To reach out to the public, to raise awareness to issues, and also as a form to express oneself.
When I told Dani about the program, and asked her if she had any interest in heading it up she said:
“People underestimate the power of art and the power of youth to express themselves. I love what you’re doing because you give these kids a voice. Giving these kids a way to express themselves is huge. The fact that you can get your feelings out, through art, without hurting anyone is really cool. I would be honored to lead that type of program.”
This program enables children and youth (in conflict with the law) to contribute positively to society through creative and supportive development art programs in jail and after their release. The program checks many “boxes,” is cost-effective, and benefits our detention center, our troubled youth, our law enforcement community, our court system and our general public. We get our troubled youth off the streets, we build confidence in them by allowing them to express themselves artistically, we provide them relatable mentors that know how to reach them on a personal level, and all of this occurs at an expense that almost any budget can fit with the resources provided or donated along the way. It’s smart, it’s efficient, it’s effective and it’s why “New Thinking” comes when you vote for this “New Sheriff.”