We have worked extensively in all of the juvenile detention centers here in the city. It is always a very long day and a lot of work, but well worth it! Here we did two performance, each with over 100 young men and around 40 workers, guards and teachers. Since the young men are apart of rival gangs, peer pressure is strong and we have to work really hard to get through to them and teach them. We do a piece of theater where we get a volunteer to act as if he is going to run drugs for a gang leader and get him to say a price. Then towards the end of the act we play out that it was a set up and he is going to prison. WE have posters that show how horrible the prison is and then ask him how much he would pay to get out f prison. The volunteer normally answers everything he has and the point hits home. There is no price worth risking your life. We teach how all this ends in either prison, or a grave. When we use these kinds of ideas to teach as well as making them laugh and have fun with magic, hip hop and Capoeira, it is very effective.
So many of the tough, “bad” kids were all in tears saying goodbye and just wanted to be hugged and listen to. Sometimes the situation here reminds me of the child soldiers in Africa. Marley children forced into situations that they never should be. Forced to do things and see things well beyond their years that damages their minds and hearts. After this performance we received many requests to visit others.
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