CHICAGO (CBS) — Children serving time for their crimes at a juvenile prison in Warrenville are healing through singing and gaining acceptance through acting.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov explains why their own stories are the scripts.
The kids, incarcerated for crimes from theft to murder, are singing and acting out personal stories about what led them to their serving their sentences at the juvenile prison.
“To get it out, heard, off my chest. I just feel better,” said 19-year-old Denae, whose full name is protected for privacy concerns.
Denae is one of the performers rehearsing for an upcoming show. Snippets of their collective lfie experiences make up the script.
“There was always some past trauma, abuse, rape, killing, losing someone that lead the kid to become angry or depressed,” said Meade Palidofsky.
Meade Palidofsky founded the “Storycatchers” theater program with the goal of getting the kids to confront their trauma and share it in the hopes of understanding how it led to their crime.
“That’s what we want. That’s where the change is,” said Palidofsky.
“We are charged with treating them individual so they can return to the community successfully. I think Storycatchers is an intricate part of that program,” said Judy Davis, the Superintendent of the Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville.
Davis has seen dozens of kids take part in its now 28-year run. Some have seen life success while others have struggled. Others have been killed post-release, including a 17-year-old boy in Chicago last weekend.
Denae is only looking ahead.
“At this point, I have learned how to control myself and approach situations differently to get a better outcome. Yes [I have hope for the future],” she said.
Storycatchers shows are open to families and members of the public over age 18. The next show is at the Warrenville Youth Center on Saturday.