In seventh grade, Kyle hated school. It was common for Kyle to arrive at Fitler Academics Plus in Philadelphia and hide in a closet or in the back of the classroom. On the rare occasions he spoke in class, he whispered. Kyle hid himself and when that didn’t work he hid inside himself.
That same year, Young Audiences collaborated with Fitler on a program that empowers students to express themselves through the arts. Teaching artists conducted workshops in slam poetry and hip-hop dance. After working with Young Audiences’ artists, something amazing happened—Kyle emerged from hiding. He stood among his peers and recited his poem in a deep and powerful voice. Kyle’s teacher Rachael Pringle recalled that she had never heard Kyle’s real voice before that moment.
Kyle went on to share his poetry and his hip-hop dance moves at two community performances. At graduation, Kyle was awarded “Breakout Artist of the Year” by his teachers and classmates. As he climbed the stairs to receive his award, his fellow graduates chanted a verse of his spoken word poem in his honor.
The creative process inspired Kyle to transform. Teaching artist Jacob Winterstein likens Kyle’s transformation to creating poetry, “At the start there is no poem. We wander through the challenging process of creation, then a poem or rap is born—it’s taken care of, nurtured and prepared to be shared with others.”
What would have happened if Kyle never got the chance to explore his creativity through poetry? Would he still be hiding? This question drives us toward our goal of serving every child every year with transformative arts education programs.
This GIVING TUESDAY, join us by making a tax-deductible donation to Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania.
On behalf of Kyle and the thousands of children we serve, thank you.
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