DreamYard is Chelsea John’s outlet. She became involved in third grade when the organization came to her school to teach art, and she’s now a high school junior bringing art to others.
DreamYard is a nonprofit organization based in the Bronx that provides arts education to Bronx schools and creative programs outside of school. Unlike most art education programs, DreamYard brings in professional artists who team up with teachers to give students the best possible art education.
Chelsea, 16, writes, acts and is involved in the visual arts through DreamYard’s A.C.T.I.O.N. Project (Arts Community Teams In Our Neighborhoods), an art and social justice program. Youth involved in this project reach out to the community and help with different issues. For example, Chelsea recently finished an AIDS awareness project in which the group performed street theater and hosted an HIV awareness party.
For Chelsea, the biggest benefit of DreamYard is learning a whole new way of understanding the world. “I feel like through the arts, I get to see things from other points of views, with different eyes,” she said.
What’s your biggest success?
I don’t think I can name just one. I guess the success would be like touching so many people and having so many people know about DreamYard, know about what we’re doing and understand like the topics that we’re talking about. Just having the word out there and getting other people to notice the problems around them.
Why do you think it’s important to keep art alive in the community?
I think art is just a tool in learning and it’s so useful in respecting yourself and having a creative outlet. It’s really important to keep that alive because without it, you have fewer options. It’s also a connection to the community.
What’s been the biggest challenge in using art to raise awareness for social issues?
I feel like the biggest challenge is trying to balance the art and the fun of it with like the activism components and the seriousness of the topics. That’s always a problem, to get people to see past the entertainment and what pleases them to what we’re really trying to teach.
Y-Press Copytright 2010