On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dining with miscreants

I'm home after a five hour stint at Juvenile Hall, happy that the control staff let me out of the building and I can sleep freely in my own bed. First there was the girls' therapy group and then a longer time with four boys in the new "ART You Ready for Dinner?" program.

Staff offered the option to participate to Level 3 boys first and then let in one kid doing well on Level 2. The decision has been made that newly arrested kids, those on Level 1, will never be able to join the group; they must be trying hard to do well and move up a notch before they can be with us.

I reviewed the program with them. There's only one new rule: They can't leave the room until time's up because there's no way I would know if contraband walked out too. In exchange for that, there are policies that are waived during the program time. We used long sharp pencils, gouges for carving out rubber stamps, sketchbooks to keep with wire spirals and an array of attractive art supplies -- water brushes, watercolor crayons and pencils, markers, ink in a bottle and others. There are choices -- choice of project, choice of materials, choice of a free sketchbook to claim.

Dessert, as I predicted, was a key recruitment tool. Desserts are rare in Juvenile Hall. The boys get cake on their birthdays and major holidays are celebrated with dessert. But, as one guy exclaimed, "Now I know I'll have dessert once every week!" and that meant a lot to him, I could tell. Demi was there too, another draw since the kids miss their pets and never see animals unless I turn up with one of mine. A lot of the dinner conversation centered around their pets at home.

I told the guys they only had to do two things to be in full compliance: Eat dinner in the group and add pages to their new art journals, both of which they seemed to think were doable. I showed them what materials I had on board and they jumped into their work. One kid showed the others how, if you blow against a thick Sharpie pen, you can get a fine spray effect across the page, something I didn't know. Ink blot art with sprayed color and outlined splotches turned into Page One for three of the kids. The fourth was busy drawing a tattoo for future use. This group is going to be so much fun!

Staff let us go over time and the boys were in no rush to leave. "Is there anything we can do to help you clean up?" They were appreciative and thanked me for coming in. I think this project is gonna fly!


  1. Congratulations on a successful session; it sounds like it couldn't have gone better!

  2. I am so pleased with this little venture. The second session went well too.


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