Where Words Meet Addiction: Part 2

By Anna Joranger: Continued from Part 1.

…How can writing and art help empower young women recovering from addiction?

This question proved crucial to the combined mission of Urban Gateways (UG) and Healthcare Alternative Systems (HAS) when the two nonprofits struck up a partnership last year.

In spring 2011, HAS, which offers a wide range of bilingual and bicultural programs including substance abuse recovery in Chicago’s Back of the Yards community, asked UG to help create a mosaic with community youth through a one-time artist residency. Urban Gateways works with teaching artists of all artistic disciplines to offer arts education to Chicago youth, and UG visual artist Nicole Beck worked with the HAS community to design and create their mosaic. From there, UG and HAS decided to take their partnership a step further. Staff members from both organizations planned a UG artist residency at HAS locations for girls (age 12-17) and women participating in HAS’ outpatient Recovery Management Program —that is, a writing workshop for girls and women recovering from severe substance abuse.

This is where Maia Morgan stepped in. Every Wednesday evening from November 2011 through June 2012, Maia led a writing workshop for girls in HAS’ Youth Treatment Program. These girls are referred to HAS by sources including Juvenile Drug Court, Chicago Public Schools, probation officers, and family members. Their situations are all different, as are their voices.

Striking silhouette behind closed curtains, bring back my love, my light. Once opened, the shadows are no more. Bring back the voice that still lingers.

The myth of Persephone struck Maia as a relevant theme for her workshop.

Continued in Part 3.