Crisp RYDC: Empowering Through Poetry

April 15, 2019

Story support and photos from Crisp RYDC Special Education Teacher Felicia Polite

Poetry, by definition, has a distinct style and rhythm. Beauty and intensity of certain words can bring out real emotions and define aspects of life in unexpected ways. Poetry can also inspire others in providing basic truths about our lives and what our present and future lives can be.

For the students at the Crisp Regional Youth Detention Center (Crisp RYDC), poetry has been introduced as an important way to inform and empower daily life in the facility.  Following a visit from renowned poet Hank Stewart,  the concept of poetry has become simplified and made a valuable tool to the young minds who embrace the concepts that lie beneath the words and thoughts.

During his visit, Mr. Stewart uplifted the spirits of his audience through an inspirational message of the belief that anything can be done if one believes in goals and are willing to put in the work to make goals and dreams a reality.  For those who were discouraged by being in the juvenile detention system, Stewart had an equally important message:

"Right now, life is just a comma and a pause and not a final period of the story. There are many more tomorrows than yesterdays and that time exists to change and make a real difference in life."

Through sharing his own life's story, Mr. Stewart was able to paint a picture of words that presented a creative life outside of standard expectations. While he originally thought that he would become an architect as a young man, his spiritual journey helped to turn him into a poet.  This journey literally turned physical as he has had a fulfilling life traveling around the country meeting people and sharing his strong religious beliefs. 

To close his visit, Stewart asked the youth to commit themselves through the writing of a specific dream that each of them has for their lives.  In doing so, Mr. Stewart asked them to write the dream down twice, once for him and once more for themselves. By creating a copy for themselves, the youth will have a tangible reminder every day of why they exist as well as a positive direction for the future.

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