Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ashalim: It's All About Exposure

I was sitting in a meeting at the JDC office discussing my proposal for a national program that uses the arts to improve the academics of youth-at-risk when it all clicked. "The most important thing that we can do," Yehudit, who is in charge of the project, said, "is expose these children to art they never would have known about, and then to continue to give them chances to nurture and improve their new-found skills." This, to me, is what this work has been all about.

Through Ashalim, I have been given the opportunity to help change lives by opening children's eyes to the things I have always taken for granted: art and music. Through simple initiatives, we are able to illuminate a child's mind with a future full of possibilities. I don't mean to be cliche, but it's true. Two programs that make my point:


The other day I attended the opening ceremony of a new children's orchestra. The program hopes one day to be in every school in the country, providing every child with the very real opportunity to reap the benefits of a lifetime as a musician. For the opening, a small orchestra comprised of professional musicians from the Israeli Philharmonic, the program's music teachers, soldiers, and volunteers from local music schools played children-friendly pieces, including French composer's Camille Saint-Saën's fourteen movement sweet, "The Carnival of the Animals" to an audience of the future participants of the program. Each child sat on bleachers in the gym of the elementary school, clad in white sweatshirts advertising the program, red carnations in hand. I watched as each child eagerly awaited for the instrument they have chosen to study be highlighted in yet another whimsical song, and then run to present a carnation to their favorite performer. It was an uplifting evening full of so much excitement for what is to come. I eagerly await the end of year performance when the children themselves perform!
Highlighting the cello

Highlighting the flute

The children's instruments

Waiting with the carnations

Testing out the harp
Testing out the cello

After the show

Yeladim Yotstrim
Begun in Haifa, this is a program that connects the art museums with the after school programs, bringing an intensive art class to children who may never have seen a real painting before. After having visited Haifa several times, for workshops and meetings, and learned all about the curriculum and participating in talks about bringing the initiative to the whole country, I have now begun to implement the same art lessons in the two after schools where I work in Jerusalem.

After surviving a full lesson all in Hebrew, the beautiful results speak for themselves:

The continuation of the picture

At one of the moadoniyot

Exploring with the art supplies

The finished product!
 Some close-ups!

The finished product at the second moadonit

No comments:

Post a Comment