Communities Supporting Schools of Wayne County (CSS) recently announced the launch of its arts education initiative ArtXecute. ArtXecute is designed to prevent Wayne County youth from becoming involved in gang activity by providing an opportunity for at-risk and justice-involved youth to form positive peer relations and express their emotions through the creative arts.
ArtXecute will be headed by Barbara I. Jones. Jones is the Restorative Justice Program Director for CSS.
“As an attorney, my job is to help young people who’ve been charged with a crime get the best possible outcome that they can in court,” Jones stated. “But my role at CSS is quite different. As the RJP Director, my job is to oversee diversion programs that are designed to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system all together. That’s what we’re hoping to do through ArtXecute.”
The Office of Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) conducted a review of data on the effectiveness of arts-based education programs in preventing and/or reducing delinquency.
According to the OJJDP review, “Research suggests that the arts can have a positive impact on youth development from birth through adolescence. For at-risk and justice-involved youths, the arts can provide an outlet for addressing emotional and/or problem behaviors through opportunities to learn new skills, develop new talents, and express thoughts and ideas in creative and therapeutic ways.” Wayne County has seen a steady rise in the number of youth who are involved in gang-related crimes over the past few years. Taking the data presented in the OJJDP review and other related data into consideration, CSS hopes to turn the tide on that dismal trend.
“Imposing harsher penalties doesn’t work for juveniles who get in trouble just like it doesn’t work for adults who get in trouble,” Jones stated. “To continue to take this approach is the very definition of insanity— doing the same thing and expecting different results. Through ArtXecute, our aim is to do something different.”
ArtXecute’s first venture will be to produce a musical in December, featuring Motown music. ArtXecute will expand its course offerings to include other art forms over time. While preference for participation in ArtXecute will be given to at-risk and justice-involved youth, ArtXecute is open to all Wayne County students, ages 8 to 18.
Communities Supporting Schools will host an informational meeting about ArtXecute on Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, located at 308 N. William St. in Goldsboro. For more information, contact Barbara I. Jones at (919) 735-1432 or by email at [email protected] or visit Communities Supporting Schools online at waynecss.org.