By Daisy Gomez-Hugenberger, Communications Coordinator, Department of Youth Services
Studies show that integrating the creative arts into a young person’s life enhances their academic, social, and personal developmental outcomes. The Department of Youth Services (DYS) uses creative arts programming to provide supportive relationships and to build skills that encourages their strengths while fostering their future potential as adults.
Kerrin is living proof that the arts can have a positive impact on a youth’s self-image and self-
esteem. She is doing just that through a collaborative program between the Department of Youth Services and the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, which provides innovative, statewide arts programing supported by DYS and educational partner the Commonwealth Corporation (Comm. Corp.).
As Kerrin was preparing to reenter the community, DYS staff created a plan that kept her connected to resources through Bridging the Opportunity Gap (BOG), an initiative that provides employment-related services for youth returning to their communities following residential treatment. Once home, Kerrin continued learning from the Actors’ Shakespeare Project and began a three month theatre intensive, attending rehearsals at The Charlestown Working Theater two to three times each week and working alongside teens from local high schools and the professional actors.
The moment arrived when her doubts and fears would dissolve on the stage and Kerrin played several characters during the three night production of Shakespeare’s Henry V, keeping her on stage throughout the entire two-hour performance.
Kerrin credits her DYS caseworker, Jayson Griffin and Actors’ Shakespeare Project instructor, Lori Taylor, with supporting her throughout this entire process: “They never lost faith in me and that made me want to work harder to memorize all my lines and have a good performance. There were times when I was nervous but this experience taught me that you have keep going and push through.”
Demonstrating the value of this important creative arts partnership, last month Commissioner Ed Dolan joined Mayor Thomas M. Menino to announce that the City of Boston will support the Actors’ Shakespeare Project by hosting a production of Romeo and Juliet Boston’s Strand Theatre in Dorchester.
With support from DYS staff and education providers, Kerrin currently is working with the Actors’ Shakespeare Project as a theatre intern and is excited to continue her involvement in the performing arts.