Youth Forward Scholarship 2018 – Youth and Arts- A study in volunteerism

Name: Jada Evan Cecile Orr
From: SC, SC
Votes: 0

The activity that has been the most significant for me during my high
school career is the 
creation of the Stylez program.

When I began my freshman year of high school, I noticed the lack of black
students attending my school, Charleston County School of the Arts,
and the diminishing exposure of the arts to young black children in
my community. People around my school district tried to proclaim the
reason for the lack of black students attending my school was because
not enough black children were applying to audition or they came
unprepared to their auditions with the basic knowledge that pertained
to that art form. This agitated me because it meant that my presence
at the school was seen as rare and by chance, when the truth is, that
there are many black youths qualified and interested in attending.
And so, my focus became on the children that may not have the same
exposure and opportunity as I’ve been blessed to have.

I created an after school program -The Stylez program- with a plan to
disprove the false narrative of black children in Charleston County
not being interested or qualified in arts education. The goal of the
Stylez program is to introduce elementary students to four of the
offered majors at my school. The four include fashion design, vocal,
theatre, and visual arts. Our mission is to inspire these youths and
instill a passion for creativity and expression through art. I hope
that these students will find themselves intrigued by the fine arts
and use their newfound knowledge to audition for the school. Even if
they prefer not to do so, their participation in the program still
defies the assumptions of their incapability to gain admission to the
school. I’ve spent 165 hours this year alone, creating the
curriculum and working with other community partners to create an
experience that the kids will learn from and find memorable.
Additionally, I was responsible initially to have the program listed
as an official community service project with my school so that other
teens could work alongside me and gain community service hours in the
process. The program, in its third year, created a challenge only in
terms of finding funding. I was blessed to find a community
organization that agreed to sponsor my program with help in providing
art supplies and assisting with guest artist and presenters. I simply
had to ask! This program is important not only because I have a
passion to encourage children, but I also wanted to share my
knowledge of the fine arts in addition to giving background knowledge
of the process for auditioning for the school. A process that seemed
so confusing.

Stylez was meant to fill the void of diversity at my school and allow
our youth access to the arts. But the best reward is found in the
fulfilment of service. Every 
week, I see the creativity of the children in the Stylez program grow,
their curiosity rise, and their 
work ethic improve. As a result, I’ve found myself fulfilled by
stimulating them to become more intellectual, to be more creative,
and to inspire them to become leaders in their own right. I’ve
figured out how to trigger the leader inside of them and directly
imprint on the future of the community; the youth. I’ve watched
them grow as they take charge of their teams in projects and various
assignments. In the end, I’m hoping that the next project they
aspire to take 
charge of is the same one that created this space of opportunity for them to

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