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Co-designing creative spaces with criminalized youth and young adults
Each week, Free Write engages approximately 65 youth between the ages of 12 to 17 in a myriad of literacy building and positive youth development programs. Each student keeps a portfolio of their daily progress in tutoring, creative writing, visual art, audio recording and independent work. The Free Write team comprised of board, staff and volunteers engage with court-involved youth year-round, during school and after school.
Free Write’s Library & Learning Lab serves as the foundation and ecosystem for the various Free Write programs, boasting a varied collection of materials for use and loan such as dictionaries, legal resources, autobiographies, poetry, comic books, videos, music, fiction, and instructional publications. The Digital Learning Lab offers industry-standard graphic design, illustration, animation, word processing, and music production software and hardware.
With the support of the highly skilled Free Write team, students utilize digital technology to further their creative expression and skill development. These materials are available for independent use by students or for the facilitation of the following programs:
Our tutoring matches trained volunteers with young readers. The sessions are centered on each student’s competencies and literacy goals. Students participate in individualized reading instruction, re-engaging with the written word.
In small group and seminar style workshops, students learn technical and creative writing with publishing or performing in mind. Youth are encouraged to develop authentic language as they narrate and navigate their internal and external experiences.
This scaffolded curriculum offers participants an opportunity to develop competencies in drawing, illustrating, painting, paper arts, and graphic design, an more while learning industry standard hardware and software.
With options such as recording, composing, beat making, and DJ mixing, youth are explore industry standard hardware, software, and techniques with an eye toward education and careers in live sound installation, engineering and production.
Utilizing popular education methods, legal literacy education and case studies from local and Supreme Court cases, participants develop knowledge of legal terms, strategies and historical events. A core principle of Free Write’s pedagogy is to center young peoples’ experiences within a historical framework of youth leadership and international struggles for human justice and dignity.
Free Write Press
Publishing and public exhibition of Free Write student work provides students with professional, public outlets for their art. Additional, the community is given a chance to interact with student print publications, posters, murals, recordings, and performances.
The Library Literary Series
The Library Literary Series brings authors and artists to do readings, exhibits, workshops and discussions with the students of the Nancy B Jefferson Alternative School at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. Previous guests include Luis J. Rodriguez, Randall Horton, Jamila Woods, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Turtel Onli, Brandon Breaux, and Patrick Rosal.
Free Write Sound & Vision
Free Write Sound and Vision is a full service sound and visual resource for events and creative projects. Rent speakers for your parties, studio time for your recording projects, projectors for your presentations, space to host events, and other equipment that will improve the quality of your productions. Free Write S&V is a workforce development initiative that trains and hires formerly detained and court-involved youth, giving them the skills necessary to gain employment in event production and music recording industry. Free Write S&V is partnered with Midwest Pro Sound, Shure, Ableton, Wacom, Chicago Art Department, and Literacenter.
Library and Learning Lab
Free Write’s Multimedia Library and Digital Learning Lab, the only space of its kind in the CCJTDC, is designed to appeal to and engage a wide variety of learners. Students are encouraged to explore and borrow materials from the Library, which contains a range of publications including dictionaries, legal resources, autobiographies, poetry, comic books, videos, music, fiction, and instructional publications. The Digital Learning Lab offers industry-standard graphic design, illustration, animation, word processing, and music production software and hardware. The Library and Lab are the foundation for individualized literacy instruction, creative writing, visual art, and audio engineering workshops. With the support of highly skilled staff, students utilize digital technology to further their creative expression and skill development. It is within this ecosystem of the Multimedia Library and Digital Learning Lab that Free Write staff expose students to a broader realm of possibilities and career paths to pursue once they are discharged from the detention center.