The Imagine Bus Project engages incarcerated youth in fine art as a vehicle for them to build the life-skills they need to reduce their risk of recidivism. Each 90-minute session begins with an introduction to a life-skill that explicitly addresses any antisocial thinking, temperament, and associates while building important skills like communication, decision-making, and empathy. The youth then engage in a fine arts-project taught by teaching artists/mentors who serve as strong role models. By introducing art materials, techniques, and the creative process in a formal group setting, youth are exposed to positive methods for expression and communication and are inspired to discover their best-selves.
The Imagine Bus Project is the only visual arts education and life skills program offered to incarcerated youth in the Bay Area. Our juvenile justice youth population (ages 14-18) experiences disproportionate rates of poverty, single parent households, and insufficient time with parents/caregivers. Art gives voice to youth who are otherwise misunderstood, unseen, and forgotten. Our programs are aligned with best practices and proven risk-reduction techniques for incarcerated youth. The Imagine Bus Project:

  1. Ensures justice-involved youth have access to a high-quality arts education. In the process of art making, youth learn new forms of communication and develop skills in various visual arts media including painting, drawing, sculpture, digital photography, video and mural making.
  2. Provide time and space for youth to reflect and explore their potential. The Imagine Bus Project give students the opportunity to tap into their creativity, explore their imagination, and make visual connections to the world through the arts. Participation in the arts plays a key role in youths’ development and supports creating a valuable educational system that contributes to building a healthy and equitable society.
  3. Strengthen youth bonds to their creative talents and creative professionals. Developing creative skills and building a relationship with a consistent nurturing adult produces many healthy outcomes in a young person’s life: measurably improved attitudes towards learning, more confidence in social relationships, and fewer tendencies to initiate risk-taking behaviors.
  4. Offers resources and opportunities for youth to take risks and learn from failure safely. The arts classroom provides opportunities for youth to develop a sense of accomplishment and achievement by exploring their own unique character, developing personal strengths, cultivating a strong voice, making mistakes, and being witnessed and supported in the process.