A Parent’s Perspective: Woodrow Wilson Elementary School’s Dance Residency

Updated with video from Wilson School rehearsals and performance at Dazzle Mad Hot Ballroom III: Strictly Swing on July 8, 2015.

Originally posted by Momma Lew on April 9, 2015 after attending a dance residency program at YA Adopt-A-School, Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Trenton, NJ.  See original post here. Re-posted with permission.

As a mother, I feel it is my job to make this world a better place for my children to live. Everyday we hear in the news about Common Core, Standardized Testing, the benefits of STEM, but where do the arts fall into this category? Growing up, I myself was heavily involved in music (chorus) and the arts. Now, my own children at age 4 and 6 love getting enjoying musical programs that get them up dancing and singing. Seeing these educational programs being discontinued in schools scares me and upsets me as a mother and lover of the arts.

Music and the arts help facilitate learning in all subjects and helps to enhance the skills that a child needs to learn subjects like math or science. Learning music and dance helps a child use different skills like listening, using different muscle groups and being vocal all simultaneously. For a child in the 4th and 5th grade, the arts present a huge opportunity to foster language development and verbal skills. Music and Arts programs in schools offer the opportunity for students to find new ways to be motivated and gain confidence.

I recently had the chance to enjoy an afternoon at the Woodrow Wilson School located in Trenton, NJ. Like many schools throughout the country, the Woodrow Wilson School lacks the funding needed to continue their arts programs. Sadly, in 2006 the Trenton School District drastically cut the arts. Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania’s Adopt-a-School program saved the arts for these wonderful and deserving children.

The thought of my children one day not being able to have these types of programs in their education scares me. Besides the educational value of music and the arts, they offer an intrinsic, community-building and emotional value as well. School and life for many children can be hard, it doesn’t always come easy, especially in under-funded school districts. Being able to take a break, enjoy themselves and be social with their peers can be life changing for these young students. As a spectator at the Woodrow Wilson School, it is obvious that the whole school benefited from the Young Audiences Adopt-a-School program.

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There was an energy and overall feeling of positivity that pervaded me instantly. As an adult, it left me feeling inspired, motivated and excited, not only to continue to advocate music and arts programming in schools, but also to continue my own personal work. Seeing these young people, our future, enjoying themselves and learning without even realizing it outside of the classroom was a true testament to why programs like the Young Audiences Adopt-a-School program needs to continue!

About the Young Audiences Adopt-a-School program:

In 2011 YA achieved it’s goal to attain year-long programming n elementary and middle schools throughout Trenton, as well as in one Ewing school and one Lawrence school. The program provides arts experiences to elementary and middle school students and their teachers, as well as professional development to school staff.

How you can help:

The Young Audiences Adopt-a-School program is funded by corporations, foundations, local businesses and individuals like you and I. Young Audiences’ Annual gala Dazzle: Mad Hot Ballroom takes place at the Princeton Hyatt on April 11th at 6pm to help support more YA programs in schools in need throughout New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

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