Higher Learning

A teen offered one of Young Audience's Creative Solutions

We always imagine juvenile jail to be like either the orphanage scenes in Annie or like Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock. Basically, there was lots of singing and dancing. We never did get the chance to find out the truth, possibly because we were upper middle class and really boring. We don't have the skills to jimmy a lock or score drugs. We can't sing or dance either. So we joined literary discussion groups and International Club.

Though we're pretty sure a trip to juvie doesn't have much in common with a scholarship to Juilliard, some kids on probation from the Dallas County Juvenile Department do get the chance to express themselves through a special arts and mentoring program from Young Audiences of North Texas. Called Creative Solutions, the 9-year-old program has worked with 23,000 at-risk teens by pairing them with professional visual and performing artists.

This year's Creative Solutions program has 50 teens working on theater and art for its annual showcase, which opens Thursday. Besides benefiting the teens themselves, the theater project will also benefit the Dallas County Employee Relief Fund. The play--written by Dallas County Juvenile Department probation officer Maurice Sauls--is titled No Boundaries and is about a teacher with "unconventional methods" who eventually connects with a group of troubled teens.

The art aspect of Creative Solutions is an exhibit by the other 25 teens and is likewise called No Boundaries. Local artists have assisted their students in landscape collages, printmaking, group murals and using books donated by Half Price Books to create a full-size sofa and coffee table.

Visions of teen-agers armed with mops and buckets singing "It's a Hard-Knock Life" may be gone, but sometimes reality is just as entertaining as fiction.


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