Local artists aid students in launch of new creativity program for youth

WIBW-TV, May 29, 2023 – Click to view original article

Local artists helped students from Topeka and Junction City launch a new program to help youth develop their creativity in a positive way.

Officials with the Jayhawk Theatre say that high school students with Jobs for America’s Graduates in Topeka and Junction City joined forces to launch a creativity and youth development pilot program.

The theatre noted that local artists inspired students’ creative processes with personal stories and insights as well as the expression of themselves in a positive way.

“We are thrilled to see this vision – now more than a year in development – come to fruition with these incredible partners and artists,” stated Joanne Morrell, Jayhawk Theatre, Director of Marketing and Development. “Tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, engineers and business leaders are today’s students. Creativity, confidence and inspired problem-solving are essential for us to stay competitive and keep Topeka, Shawnee County and Kansas moving forward.”

According to the theatre, JAG-K boasts 104 programs in 49 school districts which served more than 5,500 students across the Sunflower State last school year.

“JAG-K’s mission is to prepare students for successful futures. Being able to deal with adversity and to communicate effectively are tools we all need, and today’s event provided that and much more,” stated Chuck Knapp, President and CEO, of JAG-K.

Officials indicated that students learned about creativity in a broad sense, why it matters for personal and professional growth and how it positively contributes to mental health and meaningful relationships. Break-out sessions inspired students to explore their own concepts of creativity with peers and mentors through the written word, song, poetry, art, music, dance, service and more.

“Creativity exists within each and every one of us. Working with students to inspire them to be creative, experience the creative flow and solve problems more effectively helps develop tomorrow’s workforce,” stated S.J. Hazim, Co-Founder of CP&M/Authentic Expressions, a contributing poet.“It was an amazing day watching students tap into their creative potential, foster deeper connections and build their confidence.”

Experts also shared tips and tricks what students such as telling the truth, staying genuine and sharing personal stories to develop meaningful connections.

“Being vulnerable and sharing our truth can be scary, but the courage to do so is one of the most powerful forces for creating the world we want for ourselves and others,” said Connor England, co-founder of CP&M/Authentic Expressions.

Partners included local artists, JAG-Kansas, Creative Pathways & Means and the Jayhawk Theatre. Grant-funded underwriting from the City of Topeka and the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission. Meanwhile, organizers hope to expand statewide.