The thing I most want to share with you in asking you to support New Urban Arts today is how this place becomes the centerpiece of adolescence for young people who’s adolescence is often society’s afterthought.
Carmina started hanging out at New Urban Arts last year. She’s very shy, and at first, she didn’t talk very much. She just sat alone, endlessly drawing comics.
One day last spring, she sat down at my desk. I asked how she was doing, and it all came pouring out. “My teacher yelled at me today, but it wasn’t my fault, so I yelled back at her, and I didn’t mean to get so mad, and I felt bad, and then I started crying.” It was a school moment you probably remember; Carmina was talking to another student before class and became so absorbed that she didn’t hear her teacher bring class to order.
It was a minor scolding. Carmina even thought the teacher was right, but it was too late, she told me, because the smallest things can trigger her, and once she starts to cry, she can’t stop. Other kids make fun of her for it. And now she was speaking to me in halting bursts between sobs. “They call me crybaby…. I don’t want to be this way…. I thought I was getting better.”
We talked for over an hour, and I learned about some of the challenges Carmina is facing. You don’t need to hear all of them, but I’ll share two that really struck me: she does have teachers that she trusts and who like her, but they never have enough time for her. And when she’s drawing, she feels like nothing painful can touch her, but her school has only one art teacher for 700 students, and Carmina doesn’t qualify for his class.
At New Urban Arts, youth connect with others. They gain creative skills to envision their own solutions. They build lasting, positive relationships with artist-mentors and peers. Their needs are not an afterthought. So you see why young people flock here.
But right now, they’re flocking to New Urban Arts in higher numbers than ever, and we need your help to keep up with the demand.This year, we have experienced the highest attendance levels in our 18-year history. That means more young people using art supplies, needing bus passes, and eating snacks. It also means we need to add staff, so that more adults are consistently present for our youth and artist-mentors have logistical support to focus on students.
Please give today online at: http://bit.ly/NUA-Give
Daniel Schleifer, Interim Executive Director