From Executive Director and Juvenile Justice Attorney Patrick Keenan-Devlin:
I was fortunate enough to kick off 2018 by spending a special day at the Kennedy Forum of Illinois’ Annual Meeting. “Bending Toward Justice: A Summit for Mental Health Equity” was a powerful day of inquiry, exploring the intersection of justice, mental health, and education.
There were many fabulous speakers (Common, Michael Phelps, Patrick Kennedy, to name a few), but I must say that I learned the most from some of the less famous voices at the Forum. These were the voices of individuals who have experienced firsthand the equity gaps in mental health justice, criminal justice, and education justice. Stories such as Angelica Diamond Garcia who, after being raped at age 15, began engaging in risky behavior that ultimately resulted in her being arrested and handcuffed in her school cafeteria. Angelica spent the next four years bouncing in and out of Illinois’ youth prison system. Fortunately, Angelica got involved with Storycatchers Theatre while she was incarcerated. Through her involvement with Storycatchers and the meaningful relationships that she developed with her teachers and coaches, Angelica is on a hopeful path of healing. Since 2011, she has acted as a spokesperson and performer for Storycatchers. Angelica’s experience should inform policymakers, inspire youth who are caught up in the system and enlighten those of us who are looking for practical ways to make a difference.
Here is a video of the panel discussion from the Kennedy Forum of Illinois:
I came away from the Kennedy Forum resolved to “go deep” in 2018. To go deep in understanding the complexities of mental health, trauma, brain development, and resiliency. To go deep in building partnerships so that we can provide children and their families with the supports that they need. And to go deep in advocating for youth and helping them stay in school, connected to our community, and out of any pipeline that tries to funnel them into prisons or other broken institutions. Let’s reframe the narrative around “giving kids a second chance.” Because what we are really talking about, is providing every child a FIRST chance!
Thanks for your continued support. Together, let’s go deep to put Justice In Action!