This exhibit is the product of our annual memoir writing class. Over the past thirty years, The Parent/Child Center has supported pregnant, parenting and ‘at-risk’ youth in getting the support they need to live healthy, productive lives. These stories are powerful: deep, funny, heartbreaking, nostalgic, real stories. Participants were asked, “What is it about your experiences that our community needs to know?” Through oral, written and visual mediums, participants present their answers.
Memoir class was a part of participants’ academic and job training program in which several of the authors earned high school credit within our alternative education program. But over time, the benefits of the class became much more than a well-written English assignment. Participants became witnesses to each others’ pain, triumphs, memories and lives. In many ways, these stories are the fruits of young people getting the support and guidance they need to re-write their own life stories.
This exhibit explores truths common to all of humanity. Yet most communities are uncomfortable turning towards these subjects. However, could we see this exhibit as an invitation to begin a honest dialogue surrounding issues of addiction, abuse, youth resiliency, mental health, homelessness, loss, sexuality, the politics of our bodies and the unique experiences of rural life? In this context, it is easy to see these stories as gifts offering our community hope, humor, defiance and courage.