The BARS Project provides a unique new way for minority youth impacted by the juvenile justice system to participate in public life, using media (digital storytelling) to elevate, disseminate, and discuss their lived experiences. Youth, already part of the public narrative of criminal justice, are frequently identified as the source of problems, rather than as part of the solution. We will broaden the role of minority youth in our communities by centering their digital stories in a public humanities-informed dialogue on juvenile justice occurring in multiple formats – a youth-led “Town Hall Remix” public screening and forum, on radio, in news articles, and online through blog posts, websites and social media.

Two Story Listening and Sharing Sessions will engage more youth with the digital stories and in sharing their own experiences in a creative writing process and a humanities-based discussion of the philosophical issues raised. Storytelling raises awareness, increases empathy, reduces stigma, and educates community members. New insights from the fields of philosophy, ethics and juvenile justice will deepen understanding of the stories, expand on ideas of justice, and contribute to dialogue that strengthens community relationships.

Project Goals

  • Engaging local young people who have been impacted by the juvenile justice system in speaking out about their experiences through humanities -informed and youth-led dialgogues. 

  • Educating the public about the issues young people in our community are facing

                              A Maryland Humanities funded Project. 

                              A Maryland Humanities funded Project. 

What is a Digital Storytelling Workshop?

StoryCenter’s “Digital Storytelling Workshop” brings a group of eight people together to share true personal stories from their lives, as short digital videos. Those who attend will share a story verbally, in a group “Story Circle”; write a script for the story; record the story into a microphone; and use computers to edit the story. Prior media experience is not necessary. Expert facilitators will give support for all aspects of the workshop. 


The four-day digital storytelling workshop will be held at the Wicomico Public Library. Participants must be able to attend all four sessions below:

Thursday, February 15, 4:00 - 8:00 pm  (dinner provided)

Friday, February 16, 4:00 - 8:00 pm  (dinner provided)

Saturday, February 17, 1:00 - 4:30 pm (snacks provided)

Sunday, February 18, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (lunch provided)

Monday, February 19, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (lunch provided) – school holiday

Wicomico Public Library, Downtown, 122 S Division St, Salisbury, MD 21801

What kind of story tellers are needed?

We are looking for young people aged 15-24, who have had previous contact with the juvenile justice system and who are willing to publicly share a personal story about their experiences. Storytellers under the age of 18 must have written consent from their parents or guardians in order to participate.

Storytellers must be able to fully attend all workshop sessions, be willing to share their stories publicly and participate in the different project activities:

  • Four-day digital storytelling workshop
  • Town Hall Remix: #OurLivesMatter
  • Interviews with Delmarva Public Radio and the Daily Times

We are looking for stories that address the challenges faced leading up to detention, experiences during detention or incarceration, and stories of challenges and successes faced after release. While specific topics will be determined at the workshop, we’re seeking stories that talk about personal experiences, changes people want to see, and what matters most. Topics can include the following:

  • a time when you felt challenged at home, in school, in the neighborhood, in detention.a moment when you were afraid, and
  • a moment when you found courage
  • a moment when you discovered something positive and unique about yourself
  • a moment when judgement, bias, or other obstacles, kept you from getting the support you needed
  • a time when you felt especially supported
  • a moment when you were able to find a good solution to something you were facing

Please note, these are just examples. Specific story topics will be developed during the workshop!

Story Teller Benefits

What will the Storytellers Gain From Participating in the Project?

If you are selected to participate in the BARS: Stories of the System project you will have the chance to create a digital story and learn valuable media skills; build relationships with the other workshop participants; help change the conversation about juvenile justice by sharing your story publicly. Participants will receive a $100 giftcard for their participation.


“The mind-sets, views, and affective relations of human beings living in a shared world make a difference in what each of us thinks is possible, fitting, or just.
— Jill Stauffer, Ethical Loneliness: The Injustice of Not Being Heard

The BARS project seeks to move the discussion surrounding juvenile justice past the narrow lens of legal procedure and criminalization to a broader imagining of justice, social responsibility, and the repair of human lives that is rooted in listening: “Who gets to speak?” “Who gets to listen?” “What is heard?” We will look at the complexities of human interdependence and social responsibility and how we view juvenile offenders and the carrying out of justice. By inviting public reflection and understanding of these ideas, the project seeks to improve relationships between isolated, disengaged, and at-risk minority youth and the broader community

The cornerstone of the project’s humanities content is the sharing of individual stories, amplified by the use of video and radio media formats and contextualized by the work of key philosophers and research on juvenile delinquency and the impacts of incarceration. Storytelling, as the construction of narrative, is a key element of the humanities. StoryCenter’s digital storytelling methodology is rooted in the act of sharing and re-telling personal narratives to gain deeper insight into our lives, and in listening deeply to the personal narratives of others in our communities to better understand the shared world in which we live and the joint responsibilities we hold.

We can’t wait to see the dynamic and inspiring programming supported through these grants. The common thread through these projects is an engagement with the humanities and its unique ability to bring people together in and across communities to reflect on the past, understand the present, and shape the future.
— Phoebe Stein, Executive Director of Maryland Humanities
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The Town Hall Remix: #OurLivesMatter, is a re-envisioning of youth-led, humanities-informed community reflection and discussion. Taking place in the new Daily Times community space in downtown Salisbury, the event will open with a film-festival style screening of the digital stories, serving as a jumping-off point for public reflection and discussion. The screening will include “Director’s Cut” commentary about each story. Storytellers and humanities scholars Dr. Stock and Dr. Walters-Jones will occupy the directors chairs offering commentary and framing the digital stories with a humanities perspective on juvenile justice, the impact of criminalization, and the philosophical ideas surrounding reform, encouraging reflection and inviting questions from the audience in a post-screening Q&A Session.


TOWN HALL REMIX: #OurLivesMatter

Saturday, April 21, 2018 2-5 pm

Wicomico Public Library, Downtown, 122 S Division St, Salisbury, MD 21801



In Spring 2018, The BARS project will host two 4-hour “Story Sharing and Listening Sessions” for high school students at the Wicomico Public Library. Each Story Session, facilitated by Fenix, StoryCenter, and Salisbury University faculty member, Dr. Cristina Cammarano, will be open to a group of 10 participants. Participants will have the opportunity to view the digital stories and share their own experiences in a story circle and creative writing process. The written pieces will be shared with the group and Dr. Cammarano will lead the participants in a facilitated discussion of the philosophical issues that are raised by each of the stories. Selected stories will be shared on the Fenix website and StoryCenter blogs posts.


dates to be announced! 

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