If you’ve driven around Greater Cincinnati this summer, you may be seeing new color in unexpected places. Teenage apprentice artists have been working side-by-side professional artists as part of ArtWorks Cincinnati summer program. Actually there are 115 teens who have created 15 beautiful, eye-catching murals to be exact.
Yes, these paintings are great masterpieces with vivid imagery that will enrich communities for years to come. But what is really special to me about this program is the opportunity it provides young, aspiring minds to blossom. It is so much more than just getting together to create art. Apprentices strengthen their communication skills and their confidence. They learn about teamwork and responsibility.
“A lot of them gain skills they never knew they had,” ArtWorks Communication Specialist Marian Kelly told me.
There is a lot of competition for becoming an ArtWorks apprentice. Each year the organization interviews more than 300 diverse youth between the ages of 14 and 21. Key criteria are a positive attitude, ability to work as part of a group, talent and time availability.
With support from the Mayerson Foundation High School Service-Learning Program, students from nine area Cincinnati high schools helped raise awareness about a child’s walk to school in Tanzania by walking through our downtown.
Teens from Aiken High School, Arlington Heights Academy, Finneytown High School, Gamble Montessori, Lockland High School, McAuley High School, Mt. Healthy High School, Ursuline Academy, and Wyoming High School/Wyoming Youth Services researched the needs in Tanzania through Village Life Outreach Project – a Cincinnati-based non-profit organization that partners with Tanzanian villages to design and implement sustainable projects to fight poverty, provide access to clean water and health care, and improve educational outcomes.
In rural Tanzania, East Africa, students walk nearly six miles to school, which can take up to three hours one way.
It was in 2010, when Wyoming and Finneytown High School students and staff supported the children in Tanzania by creating the “Walk in My Shoes” Challenge – a 5.5 mile walk in Cincinnati from Salway Park to Fountain Square. It was an effort that quickly spread.
Proceeds from the Walk help fund the Village Life Outreach Project Ugi Nutrition Program in Tanzanian schools. Ugi is a nutritious meal that feeds 1,200 Tanzanian students who walk to school per day and would otherwise go malnourished. The total cost to feed all 1,200 primary school children per year equals a daily cost of $0.04 per child.
A few weeks ago I introduced you to Ryan Courtade, founder of a non-profit, all-volunteer organization called Northern Kentucky Youth Foundation. It is a resource and partner for educators and organizations committed to the success of young people; and the Foundation is a strong advocate for youth in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties with programs that now include bullying prevention.
And Ryan needs your help. He is in the process of developing an anti-bullying campaign to launch in the fall with a focus on empowering the bystanders. It will use various media to relay information including a video, printed materials and the internet. Ryan wants to engage youth rather than using only school-wide assemblies and other traditional methods.
Do you have some time and resources to give to help? Any businesses, agencies or community members interested in assisting with the anti-bullying efforts should call him at 859-795-1506 or visit www.nkyyouth.org for more information.
If you want to truly be inspired…spend an evening surrounded by young people who are making a difference in this world in their own very personal way. This was the 15th year that the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati celebrated teen role models for caring, respect, honesty and responsibility. It was such an honor for me to work with them and get to know them in writing their bios and working on the publicity. A special thank you to FOX19, who I got to partner with us in promoting it. Each day the week leading up to the event Tracey Johnson (who emceed the event) interviewed honorees on her Morning Xtra show.
One of Tracey Johnson’s interview with YMCA Character Award honorees
Empowering young people to pursue their passions, to use their creative skills and to bring out their strengths is one of the greatest gifts we can pass along.
The Cincinnati Arts Association is doing just that with the region’s largest solo arts competition for students – the Overture Awards Program. This year it is initiating a new opportunity for Tri-State teens in grades 9 to 12.
The Next Pop Star Competition is designed for singers and dancers who perform popular music and dance. Most of them will not have studied privately. It will offer a chance for them to compete with others who share their enjoyment of these art forms. Applications from students who have competed in the Overture Award Program in the past will not be accepted.
25 dancers and 25 vocal music students will be allowed to compete on a first-come first-served basis for no longer than five minutes. There is an application that must be filled out but no application fee. The application can be found at http://www.cincinnatiarts.org/Overture_Awards
Two winners, one from each discipline, will receive a $300 prize. The event will be Saturday, June 2, 2012 at The Aronoff Center from 9:00 a.m.to 1:00 p.m. Students will receive a letter with a specific time at which they should report.
The Arts Association will provide a keyboard and a CD player for students’ use and they can bring an accompanist.
Guidelines for both disciplines can be found on our website, cincinnatiarts.org/overture_awards. Click on the Next Pop Star link.
Please call Carolyn Phillips with any questions at 513-977-4168 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A word about competition from the Cincinnati Arts’ Association:
Successful working artists agree that self-discipline, hard work, determination, and one’s ability to deal positively with criticism are the best indicators for success in the arts. Many brilliant high school performers have gone on to lead very traditional lives. Many people whose talents went completely unrecognized in high school have gone on to have brilliant careers in the arts.
This year’s Overture Awards will provide just one of many occasions in which a young artist’s creative efforts will be judged. A realistic picture of how a competition works and a healthy attitude about winning and losing will help keep stress to a minimum and allow contestants to keep the competition in good perspective so that it can be a useful learning experience.