"How do we evoke change if our methodology remains the same"?
For years, the question has been a troubling one, plaguing Sherrell Anderson, an Atlanta resident, and former victim of child sexual abuse.
But on Jan. 12, 2011, she says that God gave her an assignment; an instruction that permanently altered her perceptions of the past, and guided her into helping hundreds of teens across the state. She decided then to let go of imprisoning memories from her abuse, to create the nonprofit Teens: What's The Rush, Inc. (TWTR).
Through TWTR, Anderson delved into creating "Beyond the System," a Fulton County-administered Juvenile Justice program for youths of various criminal backgrounds. She began teaching three days a week at the Fulton County Juvenile Justice Center, until the program became mandated for youth offenders.
Along the way, she partnered with local agencies serving victimized women and children including the Atlanta City of Refuge and Bread of Life Services.
Two years later, TWTR remains an active force in encouraging Metro-Atlanta teenagers to avoid destructive behaviors and consequences through Arts programming.
With heightened plans for 2013, TWTR will present the stage production, "Who Cares," Saturday, Jan. 26, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Greenforst-McCalep Chirstian Academy Center in the Green Room, on 3181 Rainbow Dr., Decatur, 30034.
"Who Cares" chronicles the challenges of a teacher tasked with educating intelligent, yet disturbed students. He finds himself entangled within the crossfire of his students' lives, and has to decide whether to abandon them or to forge on for change.
"The production is so critical because we dive into the real issues -the issues that are most prevalent, but still taboo. They are taboo at least, until someone's child is killed, raped, or found guilty of a crime. We realize that generational issues create such a huge stigma on our lives, but
there has to be a change," says Anderson.
And while Anderson created "Who Cares," with the intention of helping others, penning the production dramatically affected her also.
"The classes I teach, the productions and films, all keep me busy, but they're also avenues of healing my own pain. My abuse began at 9-years-old and ended at 14, when I was raped by a police officer. I believe God allowed me to go through all of that, to understand, relate and help in the restoration of others."
A press conference and yellow carpet reception in celebration of TWTR's two-year anniversary will open the event at 11 a.m. with refreshments, community leaders and special invited guests including Dekalb County Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie, Monique Rivarde, mother of Bobby Tillman, the Atlanta teen savagely beat to death in 2010; and Gerald and Pam Champion, parents of slain FAMU drum major Robert Champion.
"We expose the issues, bringing them to the forefront, but create an environment of comfort that reveals to people how to release those hurts, taking them from 'pain-to paper-to production.' From there on, it's a process of finding out who you are. The rest is history...Lives are changed. Destiny is realized.
Tickets may be purchased at the door or online: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/4660959054?ref=ebtnebtckt. Tax-deductible donations are accepted year-round.
For more information visit: http://www.teenswhatstherush.org/who-cares.html Twitter #WhoCares