By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager
The light of opportunity keeps shining. That light beamed in the eyes of 10 kids from Village Oaks Apartments as they showcased their talents before an appreciative audience April 23 at the Grand Gallery inside The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art.
Flanked by stunning marble pieces and with a breathtaking architectural wall behind them, the kids offered songs, choreographed dance routines, spoken word pieces and original artwork. The entire program featured an Asian exploration theme to match the ambiance and artistic purpose of the Crow.
The Crow Collection, Big Thought, Behind Every Door and Sway Enterprises, along with the help of non-profit organization Music Is Our Weapon, worked together to conceptualize a 10-week after school program where kids would work toward a culminating performance at The Crow.
That means the event was a milestone for these children: Karla Tapia, 2nd grade; Loryol’ti Webb-Creeks, kindergarten; Eimani Kelly, 4th grade; Detra’kaye Tyler, 4th grade; Briyannah Wilson, 5th grade; Shatavia Burus, 7th grade; Jeremy Miller, 6th grade; Jaqualian Burus, 8th grade; Kennon Murray, 5th grade; and Jakobe Davis, 7th grade.
Score one for these kids. Here we have living proof that the opportunity gap disproportionately affecting under-resourced youth in the most poverty stricken areas of Dallas can be narrowed.
“This is the day for us to see their shine,” says Erin Offord, Big Thought’s Senior Director of Programs, who was on hand at The Crow performance. “It takes a village to make things happen. This is our community. This is a snapshot of the hard work that we do. These kids will continue to shine 10-20 years from now.”
The shine of opportunity glows in a child. Opportunity is a catalyst, a key that unlocks a portal of possibilities that once seemed out of reach.
The Village Oaks kids, all part of Big Thought’s Thriving Minds After-School program, began their journey to The Crow in February by attending the museum’s Chinese New Year celebration. The Crow then provided weekly visual art programming, participated in check-in meetings to bring staff from each participating organization together to tout successes and assess needed adjustments. In preparation for the big showcase, The Crow also created formal invitations and an event program, as well as staged the student artwork display and provided food and drinks.
“As an educator, I was very impressed with the student’s final performances and what they were able to accomplish during a short, 10-week program,” says Anne Kindseth, School Programs Manager for The Crow. “The performances exemplified each student’s commitment to using their time after school in a positive and productive way. Behind each dance movement, lyric spoken, and work of art showcased at the museum were hours and hours of time that each Village Oaks student dedicated to accomplishing something positive afterschool.”
That light of opportunity is exactly what guides Behind Every Door to spend the last five-and-a-half years working with the Village Oaks kids. Will Dowell, executive director of Behind Every Door, was on hand at The Crow showcase to share in the joy of accomplishment shared by the kids onstage.
“It’s hard to hold people accountable when they don’t have good options,” says Dowell. “Providing opportunities for these kids that they wouldn’t otherwise have provides the context and groundwork for their future. It makes all sorts of opportunities you didn’t know you could have come alive.”
And the light of opportunity keeps shining.