Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Me, Facing Life Documentary

on March 3, 2011

On Tuesday night, I watched a powerful documentary entitled, “Me, Facing Life.” The film is a part of the Independent Lens series on PBS.

Me, Facing Life is about Cyntoia Brown who was an average teenager in an American town. But a series of bad decisions led the 16-year-old into a situation that ended with her killing a man who had picked her up for sex. She was sentenced to life in a Tennessee prison and will serve a minimum of 51 years. This film challenges our assumptions about violence and explores how factors such as biology and family history can doom some young people from the start.

In Cyntoia’s story, I saw many of the young women I work with at the Denney Juvenile Justice Center poetry workshop. The film asks the question, What can we do? What can we do as a community to help these young people?” One thing I know from the poetry workshop is that whatever we do, it needs to be relevant to the youth. The majority of the youth are smart, street-wise, and can easily see through programs which don’t understand them or their lives.

Some of the ways I’ve found to work with youth in detention include: mentoring and providing opportunities in the arts. We are lucky at Denney to have the Blanche Miller Art Exhibit Program in which the youth get to spend time working with local artists in a workshop. Miller Trust Art Exhibit Workshops have included: Fused glass, stained glass, basket weaving, and mixed media collage. But, I think the question “what can we do” must expand beyond the walls of the detention center.

So, the question I pose to you, what can we do?

I think if nothing else, we can start by watching the film, and talking about it.  Possibly find a classroom or a community group to share the film with and discuss.

Resources for Me, Facing Life can be found here. The resources include a discussion and facilitator’s guide that you can download.

Future Viewing Schedules for Me, Facing Life Can be found here.

2 responses to “Me, Facing Life Documentary

  1. Anika Smith says:

    I am a therapist in Grand Rapids Public Schools, the Michigan Dept of Corrections and Juvenile Detention Center. I would like to know is the documentary available to purchase (DVD)? This is probably the most powerful video I have yet to see! Thank You!

  2. Mindy says:

    I’m not sure if the documentary is available to purchase as a DVD. You might want to check with PBS, and the Independent Lens Series. Also, check out the Chicago Girl Talk Curriculum, it’s a great one to use with girls. Information here:

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