DC Retro Jumpers

Double Dutch is the magnetic force that entices children, teens, adults and seniors alike to jump for joy whether it’s a pastime they know and remember from the past or it’s their very first time. Double Dutch is a vigorous style of jumping rope that uses two ropes turning simultaneously.

The DC Retro Jumpers is the exhibition team of adult jumpers that is available for high-energy demonstrations and lessons. Please visit our website at:  http://dcretrojumpers.com/.

The Spoken Word

The Spoken Word began as a performance poetry ensemble in 1988 founded by arts activist Darrell Stover. The performing group presents at schools, museums, conferences, colleges, churches, community groups, fairs and festivals throughout metropolitan Washington, DC.  The group has since grown to stimulate and motivate audiences on a broader stage. The Spoken Word offers workshops, classes and activities that address needs in the community through art and culture.

Performance poetry, storytelling, and African percussion music combine for the unique experience that is The Spoken Word Ensemble. The Spoken Word is rooted and grounded in the culture; dramatic and dynamic in its presentation. The troupe has delighted audiences since 1988 with stage performances, school assemblies and writing workshops. Please visit our website at:  http://www.thespokenwordonline.org/.

Lens & Pens

The Lens & Pens Project conducted by Joy Jones provides creative expression workshops for individuals in care at Saint Elizabeths Hospital (SEH) in Washington, DC. Staff members at SEH judge the workshop series to be one of the most successful activities brought to the John Howard Pavilion, both therapeutically and artistically. In the first year of doing the poetry workshops, a man who had never smiled and seldom spoke began to do both as a result of these sessions. The program now includes painting and photography. This project has received funding from The DC Department of Mental Health, The DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Other individuals in care have had their words published or broadcast on the radio, and their artwork displayed in venues around the city, including The Department of Mental Health Forensic Training Conference, The Annual Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. Memorial Mental Health Conference, Church of the Pilgrim, The Court Urgent Care Clinic at DC Superior Court, and local art exhibits. The patients’ work is also regularly featured in their newsletter, Reflections.

Developing an identity as a writer, poet, rapper or other artist improves self-concept, and identifies them as an artist who has something desirable to contribute to the community and not just as a consumer of mental health services. Everyone benefits when they rejoin society having learned healthier outlets for the expression of their feelings and the use of their talents.

The Turkey Thicket Griots Project

By Joy Jones

Turkey Thicket Recreation Center has been a part of my life for nearly all of my life.  My father, W. Morgan Jones, played tennis at Turkey Thicket every weekend of my childhood.  My mother, Marilyn Jones, took up tennis after retirement and has played countless matches there, too.  When my sister Lorraine Jones, was a child, she was in the pre-school.  My other sister, Vita Washington, brings her son Robert to play there.  When I prepared for the 2001 Baltimore Marathon, I trained on Turkey Thicket’s track.

I became more actively involved with Turkey Thicket in 1995.  Through DC WritersCorps, I taught creative writing to the students.  Ever since, I have been leading activities at ‘The Rec’.  I would have quit, but Shirley Debrow, who manages the center, is not a woman who takes no for an answer.

No one can mention Turkey Thicket without mentioning the Carroll Family.  Their activism, commitment and creativity have helped it flourish.  Natalie Carroll is a steady, loving presence and has helped to raise nearly every child in the community.  When  Nicole Carroll worked there, she was known for her beautiful bulletin boards.  DC WritersCorps Director, Kenneth Carroll has made writers and other resources available to the center, as well as making himself personally available.  Joy Hunter Carroll once led a creative writing class there and you’ll often see her and her children hanging out.  Thomas Carroll currently carries on the tradition, working as a recreation assistant.  But major props go to staunch, long-time volunteer and supporter Estella Carroll.  Without her, Turkey Thicket would lose much of its flava.

With the renovation and expansion of the center, I thought this would be the right time to record Turkey Thicket’s story.  This project has been made possible through funding from DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and generous donations by the Kiwanis Club.  Support by the Kiwanis came through author, Carolivia Herron, who was one of the speakers for the Turkey Thicket Griots and quite a remarkable griot herself.  We gained more historical and social perspective from talks by Gerald Anistead, co-founder of The Turkeys Tennis Club and Natalie Carroll.

What follows are perspectives by the most important people at ‘The Rec’ – the children.   Read more…

The Story Gift Project

A word that is more magical than ‘abracadabra’ or ‘hocus pocus’ is ‘free’. The Story Gift Project is an effort to extend the magic of reading for fun by giving free books to people who may not otherwise own and enjoy a book. The Spoken Word, whose mission is to use the arts and culture to serve the community, will use The Story Gift Project to acquire and then donate books to underserved or disenfranchised communities. Click here for complete details!

Books from The Story Gift Project:

A collection of books donated to children in treatment at
Psychiatric Institute of Washington


Dr. Anne Evans, principal of Miner Elementary School accepts a donation from Joy Jones


Staff at Psychiatric Institute of Washington receive a donation of books by Peter Mandel through The Story Gift Project