Quote of the Day: “I think that what they’re trying to do is prove that like even though you have a juvenile delinquent, you can trust them and they can, like, move on from assault and battery.  Also, I think it’s to get our anger out,” Titania said. Participant in a “Sentenced to Stage” alternative to locking kids up for crimes, everything from breaking and entering to substance abuse or assault. Instead, they learn Shakespeare!

This post is part of the We Are the World Blogfest created to spread a positive message. From the creator Damyanti Biswas: “We Are the World Blogfest” seeks to promote positive news. There are many an oasis of love and light out there, stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world. 

I heard about this program from a retired teacher in our area. He said that kids who are caught and convicted of crimes are being paired up with actors and directors from the famed Shakespeare & Company in Massachusetts. Judge Paul Perachi started this program 17 years ago, noting that Shakespeare himself was seen as a tyrant, going against social norms. He saw the value in creating stories together on stage, of learning the difficult language and the beauty of the bard’s words. He showed the kids how to create, how to channel their anger and emotions, and a different way of coping than acting out in a negative way. You can read more in this article from CBS news

I work with youth in the Brainerd lakes area on developing scripts together. It always amazes me how it turns into a wonderful, cooperative experience where kids are working together, making friends, using their creativity and cheering each other on. If a student is late, or had missed the week before, the other students cheer that student in the door, truly glad that they are there to share this experience. 

“Sentenced to Stage” reading and learning Shakespeare, creating stories together, a shared experience, that is the success of these programs. They give kids a sense of belonging. “The play’s the thing,” from Hamlet, “Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What cooperative programs do you have in your community?