According to the ACLU, nearly 60-thousand kids younger than 18 are incarcerated in juvenile detention centers and prisons across the U.S.
When these kids are jailed, they are cut off from their family, their education is disrupted, and they may be exposed to further trauma and violence, which can cause life-long damage to their development.
In this Healthy Living, Whitney Amann has the story of a woman who is empowering young girls caught up in the system.
17-year-old Aleena McCrary is using her writing to heal. “Most of my poetry is about like real life,” she explained. Things got very real for Aleena a couple of years ago after being taken to court as a runaway at 13. She was placed in juvenile detention at 15. “It was a bad decision made of impulse,” she added.
Most young women have their first encounter with the juvenile justice system as a runaway. That’s why Stacia Freeman founded Epic Girl. “We want the girls that are most likely to fall through the cracks,” Stacia said. “The ones a lot of times that society, the system, the world has given up on”.
Epic Girl reaches about 300 girls a year. It empowers them with education to recognize unhealthy situations that can affect their mindset by talking about boundaries, resolving conflicts effectively, self-esteem, and most importantly, relationships
“Anything I ever needed, I knew I could count on them and that really is what made me turn around,” Aleena said. “They taught me how to use my voice”.
Data has found that girls who have entered the Epic Girl program are less likely to re-enter the court system. The program is completely free to the girls, but expenses can run about $450/girl. Funding is covered with grants and private donations.
For more information about Epic Girl, .