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Your Chicago: Barrel Of Monkeys

(CBS) – It often takes a creative adult to inspire a young person to be creative.

That certainly is the mission of the school program Barrel of Monkeys, which exposes Chicago Public Schools students to creative writing and professionally trained actors. The result is a lot of fun and a lot of learning.

CBS 2's Kate Sullivan reports.

These are not just actors. They are teachers and role models and lovers of the written and spoken word. They are all part of the non-profit group Barrel of Monkey, which goes into CPS schools to teach creative writing.

"We want them to develop an enthusiasm for language arts. We want them to have confidence in their ability to write and story-tell, and talk in front of other students," Joseph Schupbach says.

Once the kids learn to write essays, stories or skits, these teacher-actors take those words and bring them to life in a professional performance.

Nine-year-old Fredriana Ward is one of the young writers who get to see their work take life.

"They teach us about how to act and how not to be ashamed in front of people," she says.

Since 1997, the program has touched more than 8,000 students in 60 schools. Actor Erick Dorris says it's a magical process.

Barrel of Monkeys survives on grant money and donations.


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