Our Road Map for Life Workshop©
An innovative, bold Program that helps youth learn to make choices that will lead to success.
Youth Served: Workshops are offered to young people who have been adjudicated delinquent, have involvement with the Department of Human Services, a parent in prison, or live neighborhoods where crime and incarceration are prevalent.
Workshop Description: Road Map for Life Workshops are a series of ten sessions that help youth identify their strengths, understand the legal consequences of high risk behaviors, and learn to make choices that lead to constructive lifestyles. The Workshops combine a life skills program that targets improved social cognitive skills with an art program that personalizes and intensifies the learning. Each session identifies and challenges belief systems that lead to destructive behaviors and explores choices that build on individual strengths and lead to constructive behaviors.
Objectives: Learning outcomes for participants include:
• Improve self awareness and social cognitive skills
• Identify personal strengths and strategies to build competencies
• Identify responsibilities to family, friends and community
• Improve communication and decision making skills
• Establish and engage in learning and educational goals
• Establish and engage in employment goals
• Reduce harmful and criminal behaviors
Workshop Process: The Road Map for Life Workshops present the art and statements of Charles Lawson, a prisoner whose experiences serve as an instructive, cautionary tale for the youth. In each session the students discuss the critical issues reflected in the art and stories – issues which many of them face in their day to day lives. The youth then complete an artistic response (visual, poetic, or narrative) that personalizes and intensifies the learning. The Road Map Workbook includes the narratives, illustrations, concepts and skills for each session and the students’ own work.
Workshop Evaluation: The Program Director reviews and evaluates the youths’ responses on three criteria: participation in the dialogue, active listening, and completion of their response forms. Ten of the Workshops have included comprehensive evaluations of the youths’ work. 85% of the 125 youth who completed the Workshops demonstrate a high level of engagement and participation in the program.
Final Exhibit: During the final session of the Workshops the artworks used in the Workshop and the work of the youth are highlighted at an exhibit at Youth Center. The students are recognized at this time for their accomplishments in the program and receive their Workbooks. The final Presentation is an opportunity for those who participate in the Workshop to share their ideas and give their evaluation of the experience. One young man spoke during the Presentation saying that the Workshops provided “a life changing experience for me.”
The most recent presentation of Road Map Workshop took place at the Montgomery County Youth Detention Center from August 6 - 10, 2018.
Participant Quotes: Excerpts from some of the youth who have participated in the Workshops:
… I love this Program that is changing people’s lives because it tells the truth about life.
It teaches us to believe in ourselves and build on our inner strengths.
... this Workshop has been a life changing experience for me.
.... get a place or art store and let more kids do the Road Map.
... keep pushing the points and talk to everybody they can.
... keep going to placements like this to reach more kids.
… do this all over the world so other kids can learn what I’ve learned.
… if I get to 21, I want to participate in the Road Map for Life Workshops.
… my choice is to learn to deal with my anger.
… I made a decision to stay away from guns.
… I am motivated to try again to make it when I go home.
The Road Map for Life Workshop has been supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and donations from Montgomery County businesses and individuals.
Suave’s Statement for
Road Map Workshops
In preparation for the Road Map Workshops at the Mongomery County Youth Detention Center AfJ Director, AMKirk, asked Suave to share his message for youth. Following are exerpts from that conversation:
“No matter where you are – in the community, at home, in the Youth Center, you can make a difference with the decisions you make and the actions you take."
Trauma – We don’t have to disregard pains of the past or present. But trauma cannot be an excuse to justify hurting others or breaking laws. Use what you have experienced as a Springboard to motivate you to do what you decide is best for you in your life. We don’t have time to play the game the system wants you to play – the victim’s game. It is up to you to decide to be a victim or to be victorious.
Drugs & Guns – Throughout poor communities – beyond what is going on in other communities – drugs and guns are a one way ticket to prison. If you want to mess with guns, become a cop. Illegal use of guns can only lead to prison.
Prison is messed up. Prison is not a place you would ever want to be. People are not made to live in prison. Not everyone can survive the hardship. Most people will come out with a mental problem – others won’t make it.
You need to understand that your life is in your hands. While at the Youth Center or wherever you are – take the opportunity to find yourself. Whatever you have trouble with – a drug problem – reading – whatever – use this time to work on it. I say this because when you are on the outside you will be distracted by peer pressure and other stresses will get in the way.
Don’t waste your potential by looking at Counselors and Teachers are enemies – see them as Resources. No one can force you to find yourself. Only you can do this.”
Suave ended the conversation saying, “More people need to know about Charles Lawson. He has done so much for so many – teaching them to paint. His teaching them to paint helped hundreds of men in prison to make their lives better.”
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PRISONER ART FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
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* Artworks are either privately owned or have been donated to Art for Justice.