Updated: May 4, 2020
Restorative Arts Partnership Brings Writing, Storytelling and Confidence to Court-Involved Youth
Comprised of duo Mary Margaret Randall and Daniel Westbrooks, One Voice Nashville brings storytelling and writing programming to youth inside the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center as part of Metro Arts’ Restorative Arts program.
In addition to group instruction on writing and storytelling offered by Randall in a small group setting, One Voice provides support and one-on-one mentorship from Westbrooks. After completing the 8-week program, students participate in a showcase for an audience of staff and community partners.
Mary Margaret Randall, left, and Daniel Westbrooks, right, administer One Voice Nashville's Restorative Arts programming in the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center.
“At Showcase, youth participants tell a story about their life. This could be a story about their family, a trip they went on, or various snapshots of their life that have made them who they are today,” Randall said. “It is important for One Voice to get out of the way as much as possible at Showcase as we provide a space for the young people to embody their own power and voice.” The students are also provided time after the Showcase to receive positive feedback and encouragement from the audience.
The entire process is rewarding for Randall and Westbrooks, but Randall says the most rewarding part is “watching the process of the students creat(ing) their story for Showcase. There is something special that happens with each participant, usually halfway through our program, when they realize they have an incredible story to tell."
“This process looks different for each student—sometimes it means they disappear into their writing and completely lose track of time during our session. Other times, it means volunteering to present first at Showcase even though they are the most nervous one in the group, or sitting in complete silence and taking it all in and as an adult in the audience tells them how hearing their story transformed their entire perspective.”
"The most rewarding thing for me is being able to connect with the kids and helping them better understand life and realizing that they’re not the only ones going through whatever situation that they have been through or currently facing." Westbrooks said. "And, also showing them that talking is therapeutic and helps starting the healing process to those problems."
Although One Voice is dissolving at the end of May 2020 (Randall is moving out of state), Daniel Westbrooks will continue to mentor Nashville youth through Impact Youth Outreach.