I was in my 1 millionth Zoom meeting of the week and met a woman who is part of this local project that I found fascinating. It's called the Free Verse Project, and though the name sounded familiar with me, maybe I've seen it on social media or something, I had to look it up to learn more as it sounded awesome but I wasn't quite sure what the project does.

The Free Verse Project teaches creative writing to teenagers in detention centers across Montana. It started in 2014 and has teachers in 4 centers across the state. Isn't it sad to think that the only option for a teenager in crisis was to put them in, basically, kid jail? It sucks, breaks my heart that there isn't a larger focus on rehabilitation, but honestly, I don't know what goes on at these centers, it's my sincere hope that they are being treated from a mental health stand point, and not just being punished. Sorry, went off for a minute there, I have strong feelings about kid jail. Anyway, the goal of the Free Verse Project is to have writing teachers in every juvie center in the state, and their dream is to have to shut the project down because there are no juvie centers left.

The Project is part of the Missoula Writing Collaborative and as you can imagine, results are amazing. Creative writing, poetry, essays, short stories and more are helping kids who likely feel lost, find their voice, perhaps even a purpose, and encouragement in the fact that there is a group who knows they exist and wants to hear what they have to write about. Here's some press that The Project has gotten in the past, and here are some writings from former juvie residents who are now adults.  This is the Free Verse Project website, check 'em out, see how you can help, and give 'em a Like on Facebook. I'm hoping to do some fundraisers with this group in the future, so I'll keep ya posted!