Education Afield: Youth Arts Program


For Education Afield, our series featuring other creative education programs in Tucson and beyond, we're presenting this introduction to the brand-new Youth Arts Program, written by Robyn Steele:

Kids handprints in blue and red, photo by Bernard HermantThe Youth Arts Program, or “Y.A.P!” for short, is a project in conjunction with the Blacklidge Community Collective that aims to provide the youth in our community access to quality, hands-on summer/after-school arts programs, especially for those who may not have the means to participate in other summer/after-school programs. Y.A.P’s inception came about with the help of a few friends after I noticed that almost all of the kids who live at my apartment complex seemed bored and restless, without any options to participate in structured activities. So I started setting a table up with a myriad of art supplies outside my house twice a week to try to curb their boredom, if not for their sake, for my own: when kids get bored and restless and don’t  have anything to do, they tend to yell quite a lot! In no time, the kids were knocking on my door, asking if I could bring them some more art supplies. I'd give them gloves, aprons, whatever they needed so as not to return home looking like a Jackson Pollack painting, telling their parents about how I’d given them a bunch of paints to use! The kids would stay busy outside for at least an hour. I also realized that the usual sounds of yelling seemed almost to cease altogether when the art table was out, only starting up when they’d call my name to ask if I could bring them art supplies that they needed. After noticing the positive changes that had come about simply because the kids had something somewhat structured and engaging to focus on, I could not get out of my head just how amazing it would be for children and their parents/guardians alike if there was some kind of tuition-free program for the kids in my (largely working class) neighborhood to participate in during the summer or after school, just to be able to come and learn about art and/or other creative mediums without their families having to worry about being able to afford it or about their children not having anything to do while they’re at work, running errands, etc. Conversely, parents of the youth attending Y.A.P! are welcome to stay and participate in the classes/workshops if they would like, or to use the extra time to get things done that they otherwise may have struggled to find the time for.
So began “Y.A.P.!”, one of the few summer (and future after school) programs that focuses on providing a much-needed resource to our community--a legitimate alternative to summer/after-school programs that charge working class families exorbitant and unaffordable fees that in many cases, families don’t have a choice not to pay.

If you'd like to sign up for Y.A.P. you can do so here.