How art can be used to help at risk youth

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How art can be used to help at risk youth

I've worked with at-risk youth for at least eight years and I have seen it have a tremendous impact on students and their level of perseverance and seen the beauty as the end result of what they've created. And one example of that is recent, where I had a student who was just really, seemed so gloomy and uninterested when he came to class and after going through the class and getting him to focus and having a number of guest speakers come out and talk about their creative process and the struggles that they went through and seeing the results of their work, he wanted to be more engaged in other art programs so he had to be an opportunity to be part of a program that pulled him in. And he was so excited that he wore his T-shirt almost every day for a week and then I think he decided to narrow it down few days later but he was so excited about it. I just saw his appearance and his face, his whole demeanor changed where he was excited. He would come to my class sharing about his experience. He wrote a poem about it and it really helped him shed light on the drug usage that he was a part of and how much it poisoned his body but how he was relieved to be free of that and have another way to express that freedom. And, again, it just develops a platform of finding freedom through being creative.
ALL PARENTS, Parenting

See Maria Elena Cruz's video on How art can be used to help at risk youth...


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Maria Elena Cruz

Mom & Art Curator

Maria Elena Cruz is an active artist and curator, and the mother of two children, aged five and seven. She has taught art for 15 years, and believes that art can help children’s development and ease them through difficult times of transition – something she has experience with firsthand. During the day she teaches at Optimist High and in the evening she teaches watercolor, mixed media art, and figure drawing at UCLA. Maria also directs a project called, “The Pulse,” where she invites the community to paint to the rhythm of drums. Maria also recently began a nonprofit, Dial Art that serves communities in multiple ways through art. Her children are happily involved in most of her art programs. Her son, Clarence, age seven, has been learning to play the trumpet for two years and is involved with the science academy. Her daughter, Amara, age five, is involved with gymnastics and the science academy.

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