The 2015-16 Youth Justice Program, our newest initiative, premiered its first original musical, entitled “A Chance Of…,” on March 23-26, 2016 at the West Side Y’s Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater. The show, written by the cast from the stories of their lives, drew a parallel to the realities and need for reform in the justice system with the need to address climate change and global warming. The cast not only explored their experiences of injustice as court-involved youth, but also their ideas for change. It was a powerful, moving performance and an incredible way to end a successful first year of the program.
Our goal for the Youth Justice Program is to utilize our creative process to address the unique personal and social conflicts court-involved youth face and give voice to their issues in our city. Rehearsals started in September 2015 with trainings on cross-cultural understanding, conflict resolution and violence prevention, resisting oppression, community engagement, and leadership, in addition to a wide range of performing arts workshops. From December to March, the cast wrote and rehearsed their musical.
Throughout the program, we engaged with many organizations to gather advice and insight on working with court-involved youth and the system in which they are entangled, as well as built partnerships for recruiting youth into the program. Those generous organizations are:
• CASES (Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Svcs.)
• Center for Community Alternatives
• Center for Court Innovation
• Children’s Aid Society
• Department of Probation
• Department of Probation Brooklyn Customized Assistance Unit
• Family Assessment Program –Division of Youth & Family Justice
• Friends of Island Academy
• Harlem Community Justice Center
• HeartShare/St. Vincent Svcs.
• Jewish Child Care Association
• John Jay College
• Legal Aid Society
• Martin de Porres Group Homes
• Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem
• Next Generation Center
• NYC Administration for Children’s Services
• The Bronx Defenders
• The Children’s Village
• Youth Communication
We are excited about our current 2016-17 Youth Justice Program, which began on June 14th. This current cast of court-involved youth will premiere their show December 14-17, 2016 at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater. Tickets will be available on our website in November.