Young Audiences is a group that works to help promote the arts throughout Buffalo, NY. They have several programs, all of which help students of very diverse backgrounds get involved in the arts. With the goal to reach every young person in Western New York, Young Audiences hires teachers in every discipline, offering a variety of programs year round and was even a sponsor of No Boundaries 2!
After speaking with Lindsay Evans, one program in particular caught my interest. The More Program works with individuals that are either on probation or transferring out of juvenile facilities. The goal of the program is provide a safe place for these kids to express themselves creatively, communicate problems openly in a secure environment, and to help them build skills that can eventually lead them to jobs, or college.The program gives students an opportunity to learn yoga, practice poetry, and they even recently had the opportunity to work with 3D printers or intern at an up and coming technology company. Supervisors of the program help students research colleges, create resumes, and practice for job interviews, serving as a combination of mentors and friends.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit on this program. Before meeting the students, I was given a brief overview and informed that they were currently working with Sherry Robins on a yoga unit. When walking in, I had no idea what to expect but the room immediately felt like a group of old friends. As everyone laughed about not being flexible enough to do the yoga positions correctly, I started to really notice how effective and important programs in Buffalo like these are. Many of the current students had “graduated” from the program and no longer were required to go by the court, but continued because they genuinely wanted to be there, and even made friends. One student who had been in the program will interning with Young Audiences this summer, an opportunity he might not have had otherwise.
The arts can serve as a creative outlet for students to express themselves. By providing an open and safe environment, students who might have previously had behavioral or other issues are able to learn new positive outlets for creative expression. Probation officers, and even court officials have commented on the effectiveness this program has made on these kids. Having the opportunity to participate in the program reminded me that by providing students with a safe outlet, they can truly grow. Stay tuned as we check out more art programs this summer!