May 2023 – JDC

Building Relationships through Creative Writing



March-May, a group of Seniors from the University of Sioux Falls under the direction of Dr. Beth O’Toole partnered with Journey of Hope to work with the youth at the Juvenile Detention Center in creative writing every Wednesday. Poetry has been the main focus for the youth with poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, Langston Hughes, Tanaya Winder, Charles Bukowski, E. E. Cummings, Tupac Shakur, and Rudyard Kipling. Collectively, these authors conveyed growth and overcoming of challenges faced in everyday life. The students at JDC read the poems aloud and afterward discussed what their perception was of the poem. After being shown many different types of poems such as rhythmic or freestyle poems, they started to write and share their own. Not only did the youth work on poetry but the group was also given creative writing activities. One activity that they love is being given a prompt and then an individual would write one sentence and continue to pass it on to the person beside them. This has given them the chance to be super creative in their writing and inspire them to write more. These types of activities happen every session alongside the poetry to help them become better and more creative writers. The youth at the Juvenile Detention Center learned many things throughout these three months. What the USF students liked best about their experience:

I loved having this opportunity to be able to communicate and help these children and I hope that I can do this sometime again soon!

I loved getting to meet new kids each week and growing bonds with those that returned. 

Connecting with the kids and having them open up about their experiences.

Kari Palmer