Troupe's Performance Benefits Prison Ministry

Article excerpt

Byline: Jenny Senczysen Daily Herald Correspondent

An audience of nearly 100 children and adults delighted in the recent benefit performance of MWAH! - Messages Which Are Hopeful - at Gary United Methodist Church in Wheaton.

"It's a good way to reach people by combining song and dance with messages," said Ray Moffitt, who founded the group in 1993.

Also a social worker for the DuPage County sheriff's department, Moffitt directs the performing arts troupe of seven young people, ages 14 through 21.

They sang, danced and performed their original skits on behalf of JUST, an ecumenical social services agency and ministry benefiting the inmates of the DuPage County jail in Wheaton. The acronym JUST stands for Justice, Understanding, Serving and Teaching.

Throughout the performance the talented young people from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, addressed issues that plague today's society. They then conveyed healthy alternatives to such problems as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; prevention of various forms of child and parent abuse; awareness of problems associated with teen pregnancies; and elimination of discrimination because of differences among people.

There were comical and somber moments as troupe members portrayed incidents that conveyed messages including appreciation for ourselves and others for our differences. At times, troupe members even enlisted audience members to help get across a point.

The members from the Chicago area often perform at schools, conferences, and special events in Illinois and sometimes Wisconsin.

"We show kids to face life's challenges with positive attitudes," said member Matthew Sinclair, 16, of Bolingbrook.

JUST began this fund-raising event with an ice cream social held in the church courtyard before MWAH! …