Marco Antonia Chavira began his service journey by volunteering to spend time with juveniles who did not have family nearby. Through his interest in art, Mr. Chavira started working on a drawing and writing project. As he observed the frustration the youth dealt with on a daily basis and their artistic talent, he decided to develop a broader program to harness this talent and give the youth an outlet for their emotions.
Mr. Chavira spent months creating his program, "Imagineering:" writing the curriculum, making displays, and collecting materials. He teaches three classes, one to young men with mental health problems and two to young female offenders. Several other volunteers help facilitate the classes. He is currently expanding the number of classes and motivating other community groups to become involved.
Arizona has approximately 1,500 juveniles in correctional institutions. Through the "Imagineering" program, 120 juvenile offenders have learned to channel their emotions into artwork using geometric principles. Correctional administrators familiar with the program say the youth come away not only with marketable skills but with enhanced self-esteem and the discipline needed to lead a productive life and break the chain of crime.
The "Imagineering " program costs $100 per juvenile, which Mr. Chavira has been paying himself. He is working to broaden the benefits of the program by reproducing the artwork in the form of posters and calendars, selling it to the public, and using the proceeds to make the program self-sustaining.