In 2013, The Arts Connection approached the Community Arts Council of Richmond with an idea for a unique, “out-of-the-box” initiative created not only to make the arts accessible, but to also allow children from different socioeconomic backgrounds to break down barriers and come together to experience the joys of artistic expression and the creative process. This came to be known as Reach to Teach: Immersed in the Arts, a program intently aimed at bolstering children’s social, emotional, and educational development by teaching them how to adapt, grow, and overcome challenges in a creatively challenging environment.
Students from partner schools are invited to attend a series of art-intensive days over the course of a season that expose them to multidisciplinary classes in visual and performing arts. The classes and projects are collaborative in nature, allowing for positive engagement with an unfamiliar peer group while developing confidence, empathy, and other transferable skills. By the end of an “Immersed in the Arts” day, students part with a sense of pride and identity that is palpable. At the end of each season, students, parents, teachers, staff and special guests come together to celebrate the relationships and artwork that have formed in a “Collaboration Celebration”.
The program currently serves Grade 7 students who are on the brink of entering high school. To date, we have had the pleasure of having four graduating classes from Admiral Seymour School, Brittania Elementary, Westwind Elementary, General Currie Elementary and Grauer Elementary participate in this program. Our aim is to expand the program to include more partner schools.