September , 2018

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Chicago’s leaders and residents keep looking for ways to stop the downward spiral into violence that has plagued the city, particularly its youth. However, there is a local nonprofit that is making strides in giving young people a second chance at a better life – by writing and performing it.

Storycatchers Theatre prepares young people—those in detention and those in poor and marginalized communities—to make thoughtful life choices by writing, producing and performing original musical theatre inspired by their difficult and challenging personal stories. They take a therapeutic approach to help teens in the juvenile justice system and other marginalized teens envision different endings to the traumas they’ve experienced or witnessed.

Their innovative approach has gotten the attention of national and state leaders:

—Two weeks ago, First Lady Michelle Obama recognized Storycatchers with a 2013 National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award—the nation’s highest honor for such programs—at a White House awards ceremony hosted by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

—The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice’s Behavioral Health Services Administrator works closely with Storycatchers at all IDJJ facilities to ensure cooperative and productive work with the Department’s counseling staff.

Now, Storycatchers is expanding their programs to have an even bigger reach and is working with IDJJ to explore solutions for providing better care to incarcerated youth after they are released.


—Nearly 40% of incarcerated youth are detained for parole violations that pose no threat to public safety, such as skipping school or missing curfew, according to a 2011 Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission Study.

—Each year, Storycatchers serves up to 250 incarcerated and community youth between the ages of 13 and 21, and up to 2,000 additional youth and audience members.

—A University of Chicago Crime Lab study found that supportive programs result in a 44% drop in violent crime arrests among youth, and 36% decline in youth arrests for non-violent crimes.

—For more than 10 years, Storycatchers Theatre has collaborated with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ).


On Saturday, Dec.14, Storycatchers honored teens and their families with a presentation of the national award during a staged reading of “What I Want to Be,” a play in development. Attendees include:

—Girls currently in detention and alumni from the Warrenville Illinois Youth Center program

—Boys from the Teens Together community program including Ryan Sims, a 17-year-old Storycatchers apprentice teacher who met the First Lady at the White House

—Mayor Rahm Emanuel (invited)

—Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)

—Arthur Bishop, Director, Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (invited)

—Judy Davis, Superintendent, Illinois Youth Center/Warrenville

—Meade Palidofsky, Founder and Artistic Director, Storycatchers Theatre

As one of the detainees said during a rare performance outside of the detention center of their musical What It Means To Fly, which imagined freedom from incarceration and from their inner demons, the recent award from the White House showed that “people in the world actually do care”. Another teenage girl said working on the musical helped her see a future for her away from incarceration and “it will stick with me because I know I can do better.”

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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