Video By: Ann Bickel
The After School Arts Program (ASAP) was launched in January 2018 as an initiative of ArtsAltoona. The goal of this program is to integrate the arts into after school programming throughout Blair County, creating an environment which will build confidence and strengthen talents of area youth through the arts.
With the help of many local artists and volunteers, we are committed to giving at-risk, disengaged, and underprivileged youth the opportunity to not only appreciate the arts, but engage in creating something beautiful both with their hands and in their hearts.
The After School Arts Program (ASAP) is a program for students primarily from the 7th through 9th grades; this age group is targeted because these youth are often left alone during the “after school period” of 3pm-6pm during the week and more likely to engage in risky behaviors. We have offered classes in various neighborhoods in Altoona, with plans to branch out to other areas and surrounding towns. We attempt to offer classes in areas community children can walk to, as they often don’t have parents who can drive them to and from after school activities.
Research supports the claim that arts education will result in students who are more creative, innovative, and ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century economy. Arts-based instruction increases an individual’s sense of belonging and attachment to a community. Community art programs help introduce at-risk youth to new people and experiences, and encourages students to engage in social and creative activities while feeling part of a larger community. For disadvantaged youth in particular, learning about trust and developing interpersonal skills and friendships opens pathways to a vastly expanded life.
The value of an arts-based education is found not only in arts skills, but also in improved confidence and self-esteem and skills that will be applicable in various school subjects and vocational opportunities. In addition to creativity, arts programs help students develop self-assessment, organizational, and planning skills, leaving them well-prepared for the workforce.
Perhaps most importantly, the greatest gains with arts integration are often seen school-wide, and with the most hard-to-reach and economically disadvantaged youth. Research has shown that arts activities increase school test scores, and students who are highly involved in the arts outperform less-involved peers, even within low socioeconomic groups.
Typical classes are held immediately following school at a convenient location and last approximately two hours once per week for ten weeks. An artist teaches each class and is assisted by adult volunteers who are able to form relationships with students. Under the ASAP banner, we also provide summer camps and plan to provide one-time workshops in arts and non-arts subjects. Previous ASAP classes include mural creation, visual art with poetry, dance, and more.
If you would be interested in becoming an After School Program volunteer, please email us for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.