Writing Our Stories program helps “Open the Door” for juvenile offenders

When Jeanie Thompson attended a holiday party at the Mount Meigs campus of the Alabama Department of Youth Services (DYS) in 1997, she was probably expecting non-alcoholic eggnog and cookies. What the executive director of Alabama Writers’ Forum (AWF) got was a partnership with DYS that will celebrate its 20th year on Thursday, Oct. 19.

The pairing of AWF and DYS is not an obvious one. Yes, there is a traditional school at Mount Meigs in addition to vocational training and other programs, but it is first and foremost a correctional facility for juvenile offenders. Located near Montgomery, Mount Meigs has a storied and not always favorable history, and was once home to legendary baseball player Leroy “Satchel” Paige.

“I met some of the boys and realized that they were not any different from the many young people to whom I had taught poetry writing in the Poets in the Schools program in New Orleans,” Thompson said.

She pitched the idea of a service project to James Dupree, the director at the time. He ended up green-lighting a full-fledged classroom program. Thompson enlisted award-winning fiction writer Marlin “Bart” Barton as a teaching writer and the Writing Our Stories (WOS) program was born.

Read the whole story here: http://alabamanewscenter.com/2017/10/18/writing-stories-program-helps-open-door-juvenile-offenders/

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