Joseph Young, Jr. is the founder and executive director of the Picture This Show, a nonprofit arts agency that provides a vehicle for young people to express themselves through the arts. Mr. Young provides alternatives to drugs, violence and gang involvement for children ages 8 to 14 through art, drama and entrepreneurial workshops. The Picture This Show provides transportation to and from the Trinity Episcopal Church for the Trinity Arts Project every Tuesday through Thursday. From 3:00pm to 5:30pm the children learn about theater. Each year children put on two productions.
In addition to his work with the Picture This Show, Mr. Young created the World's Largest Comic Strip Project. The project, which began during the summer of 1996, gives thousands of children the opportunity to help create a piece of art. The comic strip at last count was 100 yards long and eight feet tall. The children attend The Picture This Summer Camp where they spend more than a month writing copy, designing layout, drawing sketches and helping paint panels detailing the adventures of Dr. Joe and Bubblegum from "Scruples", Young's comic strip. Young is hoping that this project will help get kids interested in reading and art. Once the strip is completed he hopes take it on a national tour of 12 U.S. cities, where it will show and be expanded.
Mr. Young has recruited volunteers from every aspect of life to assist him in his work with the youth of Hartford. Volunteers include community residents, business owners, AmeriCorps members, politicians, and celebrities like Marcus Camby, formerly of the Toronto Raptors, who worked with the program during one summer as a child.
Mr. Young has given more than just art to the Hartford Community; in 1988 he conducted a youth voting workshop where he uses cartoon characters to illustrate the voting process. The Workshop, which was conducted during the Hartford Presidential debates, was broadcast to kids throughout the nation.
Mr. Young also created the Annual Hartford Pro-literacy Basketball Classic where citizens come from all over New England and assemble teams to play five-on-five basketball. Each team pays an entrance fee to participate. During the event, local libraries set up booths informing people about the importance of literacy, handing out literature about illiteracy programs, and recruiting volunteers. Each year, the turnout ranges from 2,000 to 3,000 people. All proceeds raised during the event go toward The Trinity Arts Project
Mr. Young has received many honors for his volunteer service including the First Place Award from the National Arts Program, for his 'Apartheid' comic strip, the opportunity to be an Olympic Torchbearer and a day in his honor.
Mr. Young often receives funding for his programs from private and corporate donations.