Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Advocating for Art Enrichment

Name: Brittany Tiara Russell
From: Adelphi, MD
Grade: College Sophomore
School: University of Maryland University College
Votes: 3

Brittany Russell

“Advocating for Art Enrichment”

As our county offers visual arts instruction as apart of a district
curriculum, as well as a school arts requirement mandated by the US
Department of Education, there is still a lack in the abilities and
opportunities needed to bridge the gap between the arts and
academics. In recent years, research and statistics have shown there
is a constant decline in the arts programs. Mostly due to budget cuts
and more focus being placed towards academic testing for primary and
secondary public schools. During the research and statistical update
performed by the National Center for Education Statistics for the
Department of Education, their data collected from 1202 out of 1602
schools, there has been a steady decline of 20 percent, as of 2010,
and still declining. As discussions of adding Art to S.T.E.M
curriculum, to form S.T.E.A.M, most schools in the Prince George
County area are still having trouble meeting the mandated
requirements, due to lack of funds with in the budget and/or
school-community partnerships. According to a separate study, only 42
percent of the schools surveyed had school-community partnerships to
offer arts and culture in efforts to help the school meet the art
education requirements; and less than 45 percent of schools offers
partnerships or collaborations with outside artists or entities. As
theorist, such as Friedrich Froebel have proven, children, especially
at the primary level, need the arts as apart of their curriculum, as
it contributes to their cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional
development. By only administering visual arts on a weekly basis for
an hour, educators, through no fault of their own, are missing
opportunities to connect and engage all students and ensure their

As an aspiring educator,
volunteer art instructor, and community member, I see the need
exhibited when primary and secondary students become lost in the
pursuit of a quality education, due to a lack in resources
I have taken a stance on this issue, and partnered with other
community organizations and centers to counter the rapid decline of
arts education. For the past 10 months, I have been instrumental in
partaking in volunteer art enrichment opportunities, as an instructor
every Sunday. It’s our duty as a community to use our gifts and
talents in ways that afford and benefit the next generation of
community members. Using my talent and education in visual arts, my
mission is to offer an outlet for creative thinking and foster the
minds of our youth, while taking a somatic approach to their
learning. In my efforts to help, motivate, and inspire them, these
youth have enriched my social growth, humility, and inculcated a
level of patience that can only be developed working with children of
different age groups and backgrounds.

Volunteering has fostered new ideas and plans for my future that include the
welfare of tomorrow’s young people. My goal is provide opportunity
to youths who would normally not experience visual and performing
arts on a grander scale. By introducing the arts on a much broader
spectrum, I hope to hold our youth to a higher standard, with
aspirations that they will inspire the generations that succeed them.
Though the establishment of a 501(c)3, I can continue my work to
promote character development as well as a creative outlet to low to
moderate income families with youth attending public school in the
Prince George’s County area.

After my formal transition into a teaching career Costa Rica or Bali in ten
to twenty years, I hope to look back on the work I’ve done and the
impacts I’ve made on communities like my own. As I am product of
the contribution other artists and educators have made, I can only
hope that in this time my message and vision enlightens new
generations to promote creative freedoms that were offered to me.


Parsad, B., and Spiegelman, M. (2012). Arts Education in Public Elementary
and Secondary Schools: 1999
and 2009
(NCES 2012–
National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education
Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.

Husted, M. (2015). Art Style-Genres-Description and Examples. Gallery for

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