If it takes a village to provide a well-rounded education for our kids, Peekskill is providing that village. The city’s Youth Bureau has teamed with Arts 10566’s expanded arts education program.
The non-profit Arts 10566 provides students with quality arts instruction from professional artists, who work with youngsters across such venues as the Youth Bureau on Main Street, Peekskill Middle School, Oakside Elementary School, and the Steel Imaginations Gallery.
Classes include dance, drama and voice, visual arts, mural design, music lessons and production.
The program is free, and it has expanded to educate more than 200 kids every day, thanks to the support of the City of Peekskill, the Office of State Senator Pete Harckham, and local companies WIN Waste Innovations, Lanza Family Foundation and White Plains Linen. The state senator was able to secure $50,000 in funding, and the local companies contributed $25,000 each.
The program is a win/win for both Arts 10566 and the Youth Bureau. Wilfredo Morel, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Arts 10566, says, “The Youth Bureau’s mission of promoting and advocating for the empowerment and well-being of all youth… is supported by Arts 10566’s mission of providing access to the arts for all youth. By offering some of our classes at the Youth Bureau, we’re helping to encourage families who may not have previously connected with the services provided there. We want to saturate the community with as many arts education opportunities for our youth as possible.“
The Youth Bureau’s Executive Director Tuesday McDonald says the partnership with Arts 10566 has helped to rejuvenate the organization, “This collaboration is truly a win-win partnership for both organizations and the community we serve. Together, we are creating a more vibrant community for our youth to thrive in.” Morel adds, “Arts create an outlet, for anyone, to have the opportunity to express themselves and provide an opportunity for self-discovery. Those skills translate into success in our everyday lives.”
Parents and teachers agree with that sentiment. Justin Wingenroth, teaching artist and Director of The Dance Conservatory, says, “Together we have all been afforded the chance to explore our unique cultures through movement and expression that is equally rewarding to our instructors as it is to the students we teach.”
Program Coordinator Tamarah Fernandez Bridgewater says, “Arts 10566 provides a platform for creativity and arts in Peekskill’s community… building relationships through opportunity creates a connection and experience that is both fulfilling and exciting.”
Arts 10566 began in 2013, serving 20 children. Within three years, it grew into a full-fledged program providing arts education to more than 200 students between the ages of 6 and 18.
Many of those kids, and their families, have been with Arts 10566 for a big part of its history. Mirna Handelman’s daughter is a student in the Ovation Strings class – she says, “my daughter started in the Arts 10566 program in the 3rd grade because unfortunately the school did not have space for violin classes… thanks to Arts 10566, she will continue to express her art through music with the violin.”
Guitar Class Teaching Artist Mike Czerwinski adds, “The Arts community in Peekskill helped me in raising and inspiring my daughters to go after their dreams. Working with Arts 10566 is my way of saying thank you and paying it forward.”
For Morel, this is also a personal project: “Art was a way for me to process my own experience of immigrating to this country and being a homeless student at one point. Art was, and is, an outlet for me to understand and explore my own self-worth and talent. Arts has been a vehicle for creating community in my life and has helped me as a community organizer to bring people together.”
Larry Epstein is an Emmy award-winning writer and producer who works at News 12, and was a producer at Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and MSNBC.