Maya Arts Camp Engages Youths’ Imaginations

September 2, 2014 · by pcriadmin · Featured, PCRI

IMG_1712For two weeks in August, PCRI hosted the Maya Angelou Summer Youth Arts Camp, giving youth ages 5-18 an opportunity to use their imaginations and express their creativity while building character and confidence.

The annual camp has a different focus each year.  For 2014, youth created and starred in a puppet play, thanks to help from Oregon Children’s Theater.  Instructor and award-winning actor James Sharinghousen worked with camp participants to develop skills from acting and dance to learning to keep their attention focused.

While Sharinghousen worked with the youth on their theater skills, Resident Services Coordinator Jessie Blanchard helped youth create puppets and props for the camp’s play and provided additional motivation and support to ensure the youth’s success at the camp.

“It was amazing to see the transformation of the youth as they worked as a team to build a 20-minute play,” Blanchard said.  “I was proud of them sticking with the performance, no mater how intimidating performing can be.  After the final performance, the youth had gained a sense of pride from performing a show that the audience thoroughly enjoyed.”

IMG_1746Blanchard added that the camp participants got to take home the puppets they made at the camp, continuing their interest in storytelling.  Each youth also graduated the camp with a t-shirt which they decorated while learning how to screen print.

The Maya Angelou Art Camp was started in 2004 by a community member as a free summer program for the children at the Maya Angelou Apartments and the surrounding neighborhood. After supporting the camp for several years, PCRI recently incorporated the camp into regular programming at the Maya Angelou Community Center.  The Maya Angelou Art Camp, as well as PCRI’s Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Camp provide opportunities for growth and development for youth residing in PCRI housing and the surrounding community who typically lack access to summer programs and healthy foods outside of school.


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