Phoenix House Involved in West Side Story Project

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Talk ShowTo extract the philosophy of Aristotle’s idea of virtue ethics, which relies largely on the effects role models have on people. Aristotle believes that we learn to be moral (virtuous) by modeling the behavior of moral people. Aristotle also believed that it was the moral duty of every citizen to act as a good role model. It is to this extent that the continual development of the West Side Story Project takes its cues.  Staying true to our obligation of being positive role models, we introduced six (6) uniquely different workshop sessions this quarter at Phoenix House Dallas that started with assistance from Catherine Cox, a professional actor and tutor within the arts. She brought a wealth of knowledge and experience which helped with icebreakers and acting scenarios.

Several meetings were held at the Eva Farley Terrace Conference Room at Jack Evans Police Headquarters, Downtown Dallas to discuss the next steps of this project. There were discussions about expanding this project to other areas/ locations and possibly put on mini youth summits that may lead to one major Summit. Chief Golbeck loves the direction that this is going in and has assigned more officers to help in this endeavor.

Police Officers dedicated themselves to the program as a result of our sessions. Spearheading the charge we have:  (1) Asst. Chief Vincent Golbeck, (2) Sgt. Bridget D.Wilson, (3) Evelyn Parris, (4) Senior Corporal Steven Castillo, (5) Officer Jonmatthew Martinez, (6) Officer Tramese Andrews and (7) Lieutenant Sally Lannom.

The activities completed this quarter were fun, interactive and extremely thought provoking. We set out on unchartered territory and conducted a talk show forum called “Speak Up” where the room was set up as a studio, complete with cushion sofas for the interviewees. Catherine and Phoenix House Staff, Tierre Berger, played Host and Co-Host of the show where they picked several members of the audience and interviewed them on their experience dealing with law enforcement, very enlightening and funny.  After that, in the later segment, two Police officers were introduced and interviewed on their experience dealing with youth in the community, this also turned out to be funny and thought provoking.  This new experiment did strengthen the existing partnership and increased the interaction between, law enforcement and Phoenix House residents.

About the Youth Summits

The West Side Story Project (WSSP) Youth Summits are a series of interactive workshops based on scenes from West Side Story that spark dialogue between youth and officers about the issues of youth and gang violence, youth-police relations, and cultural conflict. The summits help law enforcement to connect with youth through drama and music.

Purpose of the Summit:

  • To create dialogue between youth and law enforcement about youth violence, gangs, and youth-police relationships.
  • To create a dialogue between youth from different backgrounds about cultural conflict and prejudice.
  • To engage interested youth in producing, with the assistance of teaching artists and theater staff, their own art and drama based on themes from the West Side Story.
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