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Colorado Nonprofit Helps Troubled Youth Find Their Voice

By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4) - Troubled youth are finding their voice and a new direction through the art of poetry.

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"Just being able to be in a room where people are happy that you're just there is very relieving," said aspiring poet Brandon Christie.

The non profit Art from Ashes was originally funded using a credit card 15 years ago. During that time some 12,000 young people have been through the program.

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"They are able to share what's hurt them and in the revealing of that it becomes light," said Executive Director Catherine O'Neill Thorn.

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Catherine O'Neill Thorn listens to teenagers recite poetry. (credit: CBS)

In September, Catherine was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I try and say it as much as possible that love is the greatest gift and it does save lives and I've seen that be true for the youth we serve, but I never expected it for myself and I've been overwhelmed by the love from the community," she said.

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Doctors say treatments for her stage three breast cancer will go on for another year.

"She's a very inspiring person honestly. She's able to go through what she's going through yet still crack a smile on everyone's face, no matter what it is," said Christie.

Meanwhile, Catherine will continue the work of changing lives.

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"That this can actually become a career of mine, get into writing books and stuff," said student poet Tylan Jones.

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"I really hated writing growing up and now it's like something I love to do, every opportunity I get, I write," he added.

If you would like to know more about Art from Ashes or support them, you can do so by visiting

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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