Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Let's Hear it for the Arts!

A Project Create student shows off her work!

We’ve talked (and written!) a lot this summer on generally why summer programming is such an important component of youth development. This week though, we’re going to focus in on why one particular area of programming is so essential in helping young people become healthy and productive adults. Arts education and enrichment are an essential piece of the summer programming pie, and we think they deserve some time in the spotlight!
For starters, “the arts” is a very broad classification and can involve anything from learning to play a musical instrument to growing an appreciation for the work and creativity that went into all those paintings, sketches, and sculptures that line the walls of the Smithsonians to creating and performing spoken word. 

Arts programming can involve advanced instruction in one specific element or a basic introduction to a range of different fields. Summer provides an especially exciting experience for many young people to get involved in these sorts of activities as often they do not have the opportunity to do so during the school year.Through arts programming, students discover their potential to achieve and unleash their natural talents. 

                                         Students at Sitar Arts Center put on a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat!

Activities like staging plays, musicals and dance recitals teach participants valuable skills like respect, accountability, teamwork, and conflict resolution. Visual arts enrichment opportunities, whether they're team based (like creating a mural) or all about self-expression help young people create positive cultural and self-identities and can also help foster of sense of belonging which we know from mountains of research, are essential components of positive youth development.  Furthermore, arts and cultural programming expose young people to caring adult mentors who can not only teach specific artistic skills and methods, but can also serve as role models who demonstrate how to achieve goals. Many of our city’s summer arts programs are as much about building life skills as they are about building artistic skills (just think about all the communication skills you learned after your first group project!) and these are invaluable resources to our city.
A mentor leads youth through a discussion on a piece of his work at Life Pieces to Masterpieces.

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