Para Los Niños Students Walk Blocks through Skid Row to Access the Arts

Para Los Niños received a 21st Century Fox Community Grant of $50,000 this summer to build a partnership with our neighbor Inner City Arts—a safe sanctuary of creative inspiration for thousands of inner-city children. Through this partnership, our elementary and middle school students in grades 4th-8th gain a hands-on learning experiences in specialized studios through instruction in a multitude of art forms: music, drama, dance, visual arts, ceramics, animation, media arts, and theater.

Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday this fall, 365 of our students walked blocks through Skid Row to make it to Inner-City Arts. The Learning and Achieving Through the Arts (LATA) program offered students the opportunity to work with professional teaching artists with advanced degrees in their art forms—teachers like Lizbeth Navarro (ceramics), Rebecca Tager (ceramics) and Diana Rivera (drama), to name a few—who understand how art instruction offers alternative entry points for learning English language skills and fostering academic achievement. LATA employs specialized curricula in the visual and performing arts designed to address learning issues faced by inner-city children and youth challenged to develop English language proficiency in tandem with the many other skills essential for academic success.

The transformative work of Inner-City Arts was evident in our children who enthusiastically expressed how much they loved the experience. Diego Xec (4th grade) said, “I loved Inner-City Arts because I got to work with clay for the first time!

Lizbeth Navarro, Ceramics Teaching Artists shares about her time with our students, “Our experience with Para Los Niños students was amazing, seeing them so excited to be here and work with clay was extremely rewarding. In the ceramics studio, we try to give every single student one on one attention as much as possible. We are constantly circulating the room encouraging them and sometimes just having small conversations with our students about their days. We try to create a safe space where every student is heard and acknowledged for their creativity. The program aims to strengthen their language and critical thinking skills but most importantly to develop their confidence to trust their own creative abilities.”

Echoing Ms. Navarro, Ceramics Teaching Artist, Rebecca Tager comments, “We definitely saw significant emotional growth, self-esteem, and creativity with all of the students. The environment and structure of the class lead to openness and trust between the teaching artists and the students where communication is easy and comfortable.”

Para Los Niños is excited and honored to continue this partnership with Inner-City Arts, and grateful to 21st Century Fox for their support in strengthening our children’s engagement with the arts!