Rhythm Runs Through It offers a full school year of programming, serving low-income young people with special needs. The program includes multi-session residencies with teaching artists at Heritage Centers and People, Inc. The program builds sequential skills that develop physical coordination, visual communication abilities, and confidence—using rhythm as the unifying element. Young people work with teaching artists in dance, music, yoga, and visual arts throughout the school year introducing them to various art forms. This program gives these children the opportunity to be outstanding and to experience successes regularly.
In a recent program review, both the staff of Heritage Centers and Young Audiences teaching artists praised the residency’s success, citing that students have increased their communication skills, developed a stronger sense of community amongst their peers, and shown a noticeable decrease in behavioral problems. Shannon MacFarlane, Family and County Services Specialist at Heritage Centers, stated that Rhythm Runs Through It not only engages the participants but also “builds self-esteem and confidence . . . Students are able to interact with art on a level they wouldn’t have before . . . and students are always excited to see the artists and often ask when they will return.”
In fact, one of the goals for students is to learn in an atmosphere of acceptance, empathy, and cultural diversity. When asked about this goal 100% of parents either agreed or strongly agreed that, as a result of Rhythm Runs Through It, their child “had the opportunity to learn about the arts in an atmosphere of acceptance, empathy and cultural diversity.”
Young Audiences Teaching Artist and dancer, Sarah Haykel reported that “one of the older students, who was getting ready to graduate, opened up considerably while dancing. In the past, he’s been shy of partner dancing and free form movements…but something shifted this winter. We were inviting the students to free style dance in the center of a circle we created. This student decided to go into the circle after one of the other enthusiastic dancers, and I joined him. We did this freestyle flow dance that was so expressive and synchronistic. We mirrored each other and flowed in and out of each other’s space with our arms and hands, stepping around and turning to find each other again. That was really special. I’d never seen him move so fluidly or openly.”
A Rhythm Runs Through It was created by Young Audiences of Western New York and is funded by The Children’s Guild Foundation.