Founded in 2016 by John Carroll students Zachary Thomas, Anthony Shoplik, Rachel Schratz, and Michalena Mezzopera, Writers in Residence began to facilitate creative writing workshops to juveniles in detention at Cleveland’s Juvenile Detention Center and Ohio Department of Youth Services in Cuyahoga Hills. An offshoot to the popular Carroll BALLERS program, the WIR program is dedicated to the reduction of recidivism through a program of engaged learning, creative expression, peer mentorship, and community-building.

Their mission: We strive to reduce the rate of recidivism within the juvenile justice system by facilitating an open forum for artistic self-expression and constructive self-reflection while also fostering genuine, lasting relationships.

The Writers in Residence love the program. In surveys, they have noted that the program “helped me to express myself.” In addition, they noted that “I learned something new about myself,” and that it “Let me know that no matter what happened, there’s always another chance.” But one of the most affecting responses was that one “writer in residence” wrote that “I felt like I had a family again.”

In 2018, Zachary
 Thomas (JCU alum, ’18) received a John Carroll University/Cleveland Foundation Fellowship to develop the JCU Writers in Residence (WIR) program. Zach will also be facilitating a research project to determine the program’s effectiveness in improving literacy, developing a WIR creative writing handbook, and helping start and advise other WIR programs throughout the state.

Contact Zach Thomas at zthomas18@jcu.edu for more information and to get involved!