Monday, May 4, 2009

YMCA artEMBRACE Builds Healthy Communities and Healthy Youth

The artEMBRACE program at the YMCA of Middle Tennessee focuses on CREATIVE ACTIVITIES (the least reported of the 40 assets) and POSITIVE IDENTITY.

artEMBRACE - FunCo is an After School Creative Arts Enrichment Program at nearly 150 Fun Company sites in five Middle Tennessee counties. Each Fun Company site hosts one 3-8 week artEMBRACE class each year. Professional Teaching Artists teach classes of up to 15 students who sign up to participate. There is an incredible variety of classes, including printmaking, comedy improvisation, Hip-Hop dance, papermaking, origami, mural painting, guitar, trash art and fashion design.

But artEMBRACE’s goal is more than to train artists – they want to coach participants in self-esteem and a creative spirit.. Director Gerry Walker says, “We stress to our youth that there is no "wrong" way to be their creative selves. Everyone is different, which means that everyone's creative process is different and important.” They want children to be proud of themselves and of their creative work.

This program is also committed to sharing the arts around the city, so they are EMPOWERING youth artists to be resources in the community. Youth host an artEMBRACE festival where families and children can create their own art. Students are helping to instill community pride in the downtown business district by hanging their paintings in storefront windows on the Avenue of the Arts (4th-5th Avenue).

Adults, businesses, and families can take art classes at the artEMBRACE East Creative Arts Center in East Nashville. Classes range from pottery to painting to jewelry making, to African drumming to ballroom dance to creative movement for kids. There is something for everyone to enjoy! And best of all - the proceeds help fund the artEMBRACE - FunCo Program.

Find out more about building self-esteem and creativity through the arts at