“I want [the kids] to become whatever they find their passion for.”

Last year, State of the Arts met with television and film actor Joseph Halsey, who had returned to his hometown of Trenton to change the lives of local kids. How so? By teaching them filmmaking.

As a home for his filmmaking classes, he established a foundation named after his father, James R. Halsey, drawing inspiration from the years his dad spent as his coach. Joseph reflects that his father would make sure every child was involved, finding every individual’s strengths and encouraging them all to contribute to the team.

Years later, Joseph is similarly motivated. “I wish I had more time in the day—put it this way: what I would want, ten years from now, is a full-time free art school for kids that would not have that opportunity otherwise.”

“What’s better than sharing a meal with a couple young people who have great ideas?” Joseph asks with a smile in his voice—and his programs certainly illustrate the power of community and art.

This year, the James R. Halsey Foundation of the Arts has partnered with the Juvenile Justice Commission to offer classes to incarcerated teens. Their Let’s Film program offers students from the Albert Elias Residential Community Home in Bordentown, NJ the opportunity to explore the art of filmmaking as students create their own works. The program takes a holistic approach, also covering skills such as monologue writing, acting, and even marketing. Filming, which will span four weekends, began earlier this month and is completed in partnership with Vineland Preparatory Academy.

As Joseph Halsey puts it: “Commitment to a project helped them to become self-confident and provided them with a feeling of accomplishment. We are so proud of the work the students have contributed for these projects.”

Keep an eye on their projects over on the James R. Halsey Foundation’s Instagram!