INSIDEOUT WRITERS D'nA eBus Project

by Antonio Mendoza

VIDEO CLIPS
Sandy arrives with her "all-important court order"
(Quicktime - 964 KB).
Sandy talks about the InsideOUT Writers program. (Quicktime - Part One - 2.5 MB).
Sandy talks about the writers involved in the program. (Quicktime - Part Two - 1.9 MB).
Jack talks about his hero, Benjamin Franklin. (Quicktime - 2.1 MB).
Jack talks about the kids who will be visiting the eBus. (Quicktime - 1.7 MB).
Amy talks talks to the kids on the eBus. (Quicktime - 2.4 MB).
A youngster visits the My Hero Gallery. (Quicktime - 2.3 MB).
Officer Rivera talks about his heroes. (Quicktime - 1.7 MB).
Jack talks about the Wall of Accomplishment. (Quicktime - 620 KB).
View the complete movie. (Quicktime - 19 MB).

On January 29, 2004, the Digital 'n Arts (D'nA) eBus, created by the Community College Foundation, visited the Central Juvenile Hall Court School in downtown Los Angeles, to offer a chance to selected youths involved in the InsideOUT Writers program to experiment with digital technology.

InsideOUT Writers is a group of professional writers who volunteer to teach creative writing to incarcerated minors in Los Angeles County. The program was founded in May 1996 by Sister Janet Harris, then Catholic chaplain at Central Juvenile Hall, and Karen Hunt, author and illustrator of 19 children's books. Today, more than 20 professional writers -- including several WGA members, an Academy Award winner and a Pulitzer Prize nominee -- teach writing to 200 students in all three L.A. County Juvenile halls.

InsideOUT Writers collaborates with Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County Office of Education and Los Angeles County Probation Department. The students get school credit for their creative writing classes, which might encourage them to continue with their education once they're released from detention. The group, together with the Alethos Foundation, also publishes a literary magazine of student work, the InsideOUT Quarterly, and has published a book, What We See: Poems and Essays From Inside Juvenile Hall.

Sandy Gibson, the Program Director for InsideOUT Writers, said: "What we are trying to show these kids is to express themselves through socially acceptable channels. They do not have to kick the door down. They can write about it. And not only that, if they write about it, it's permanent. They can pass it on to someone."

As I walked into the Central Juvenile Hall Court School with Sandy and her trusty court order, I wasn't sure what to expect from the teachers, the incarcerated youngster, and their interaction with the technology inside the bus. As stipulated by the Court Order, I had to avoid filming the youngster's faces or in any way reveal their identities.

Jack Siegel, an volunteer teacher for InsideOUT Writers, talked about who were the students we where getting and what he hoped to accomplish. Jack writes for Cartoon Network and Warner Brother's Animation, and freelances as a live action and visual effects producer. He said his hero was Benjamin Franklin, "because he was an artist, he was.. a free thinker, he had a good sense of humor, and was a lover of life, and a giver of ideas."

Once the students boarded the D'nA eBus, Amy Sherman, Program Manager for the Los Angeles eBus, told them a few details about the equipment on board. Many chose to surf the net and download music. One student made a collage using a picture of a sunset and TuPac lyrics he downloaded from a Web site. Another student, who's hero was Che Guevara, visited the My Hero Gallery, and then showed me his artwork.

Officer Rivera said his heroes were Malcolm X, Che Guevara and José Martí, adding that Martí was his hero because, "one of the things he said about mankind... or man was that, true man does not look on what side lives better but what side duty lies .... which I think helps especially when you work in your job from day to day, something like that can help in your own little situation, as far as coming to work everyday, it might be hard, but where does the duty lie? I think that helps me come to work everyday."

Page created on 8/12/2004 2:59:54 PM

Last edited 1/5/2017 4:54:07 PM

Related Links

InsideOUT Writers - Learn more about InsideOUT Writers program.
- Read the work of some of the students involved with InsideOUT Writers program.
The Community College Foundation - Learn about other programs of the Community College Foundation.