"Don't think that because you see a game room and a gym that it's fun in here. It's not."
That's what Whitney, a teenager locked up in Warrenville Correctional Facility, has to say, while giving a tour to the camera. She was a part of the Emmy-winning documentary "Girls on the Wall," a film by Heather Ross that showed the reality of what it's like for the girls in Warrenville.
But the film isn't just about the juvenile justice system. Ross gives us an inside look at a program that reaches these young women in a way that few can. It's called Fabulous Females, a project run by Storycatcher's Theatre that helps girls tell their own stories and turns those stories into a musical that they write and perform.
What does it mean to share your story when you're a juvenile inmate? Here's a look inside Warrenville with Ross.
You can see "Girls on the Wall" or order it on DVD, but you can also travel to Warrenville next month to see the Fabulous Females current production--"The Tale of 1000 Dolls and One Girl"--at the IYC facility Nov. 9, 10, 12 and 13.
The musical tells the story of Shahara, a girl who can't remember the most important story of her life. Named after Scheherazade, Shahara learns that that she, too, must save her own life by telling stories. Staff and family take on the roles of the Sultan, Scheherazade, Dinarzade and Aladdin from the Arabian Nights, and through storytelling, Shahara discovers important pieces of her own story in the tales of others.
On Nov. 9 and 10, audience members can tour the facility and have a catered lunch after the show with staff and the cast. Payment and reservations must be made by Oct. 25. Admission is free on Nov. 12 and 13, but reservations are required.
These girls' stories are powerful, and they deserve to be heard. Consider making the trip to Warrenville to hear what they have to say. I don't think you'll regret it.
Photo credit: Girls on the Wall
© Community Renewal Society 2011