December 2022 – Juvenile Detention Center

December 12-16, Joan Zych was back at the Minnehaha Juvenile Detention Center for ‘The Art of Our Stories’ – a workshop to assist the youth at JDC in telling their stories through art. During the week, at least 12 youth participated in the program. We changed it up this time by meeting two hours a day (instead of one hour) for the first two days with one group and a second group the next two days. The final day, the youth showcased their art with statements written of the work they painted. The pictures below only touch the surface of the real  pain and struggles these young kids face.



My piece represents me. The outline is me. The black background is the void I am stuck in. I struggle with my priorities between using and my more important values like my baby sisters, my spirituality, and my peace. I’m spiritual so I made it universal themed. The planets are my  priorities. As you can see the biggest planet is on my heart, that represents my family, my future, etc. The smallest planet is on the face which represents my using with drugs and alcohol. It is small because I want to choose my greater values over anything. It’s a battle with my mind and my heart. 



We all go different directions in life.

My past is the past ~ it taught me what I don’t want to go back to. This is what I learned . . . it wasn’t good for me – it made me go crazy, because I did bad things, choices I am not proud of. I drank too much, did drugs, and skipped school.

All of this caught up with me. Now I am here at JDC. This is what I learned . . . it can help me recover, it can help me realize I don’t want to make the choices of the past. I have learned what I want to do in my future. 

The future is bright ~ full of new opportunities. I am going to go to school, get my degree. I might even try to do some sports again. I will look for a job.

I will keep looking forward to the days getting brighter. I am going to work at daycare center someday, because I want to help others. I like to help others. I realize I have to help myself first and then I will help others in the right direction. 




I am trapped in my own addiction. I want to escape from all of my problems. Right now I feel like the only solution is the bottle and drugs and to drown myself in it all. This is what takes all the pain away ~ but only for a minute. I learned at a young age this was the solution to the relieve the pain in my life. Life is confusing to me ~ I’m battling it. I do have dreams though ~ I like to express myself through art and fitness.



Testimonial from the youth:

What have you learned about yourself from participating in this program?

  • I can do better
  • More aware of my goals
  • I learned about my past and future. They can still be a good thing for me to learn. 
  • I learned that my problems can be shared.

Thank you to Midco, Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, and The Twice Blessed Fund of Thrivent Charitable Impact of Investing for sponsoring the art programs.

Kari Palmer