My name is Lilly and I owe every part of who I am to theater camp. It’s true for so many of us, whether we went on to ever find ourselves back on center stage in life or just in a happy adult life using our voice, carrying ourselves with confidence and knowing how to fake it once in a while.
Theater camp is so important for us theater kids – it gave me a safe space for the loud, silly side of me that didn’t feel quite comfortable during the school year. Just like athletics are an integral part of every child’s development whether they thrive in it or not, I believe the performing arts exposure is a vital part of healthy childhood.
Summer camps are no small investment! The costs can make it difficult for me to use camps as a time to try something new, which is sadly summer’s biggest opportunity.
I’m so excited to introduce you to Junior Players today. Not only are their summer camps inclusive and well rounded, they’re completely free for all families – including yours!
With their passion and years of field research on the topic, I thought the Junior Players were the best guests to share their five reasons why all kids deserve and thrive in quality performing arts programming. Enjoy! And don’t forget to leave something in their tip jar if you loved this post! 🙂
Five Reasons Why Kids Need Performing Arts Camps
Since 1955, Junior Players has been empowering young voices by providing free, high quality, arts programming to North Texas children and youth. And we’ve only just begun. Through innovative programs and outreach opportunities, we’re increasing our impact, equipping more students with transformational skills to equip them for their futures. Junior Players understands the benefits of participating in arts activities in youth development and offers our services to the community completely free because we believe no child should be denied opportunities due to factors out of their control. Here are 5 benefits of participating in arts activities!
- Participation in arts activities enhances critical thinking skills.
Students involved in arts activities have been shown to have significant increases in academic achievements and the development of critical thinking skills. According to the 2021 State of the Arts Report by the Texas Cultural Trust, students engaged in arts courses have higher attendance rates across all grade levels and High School students who participate in arts programming are twice as likely to graduate high school, 22% more likely to attend college, and 15% more likely to achieve passing scores on standardized tests.
In addition to the intrinsic educational value of the arts, all Junior Players programs are integrated with TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) objectives for grades K-12, including 110) English Language Arts and Reading, 113) Social Studies, 116) Physical Education and 117) Art, Music, and Theatre. Junior Players art programs in North Texas schools and recreation centers are a vital element in addressing the issues and needs of low-moderate income youth. Our programs provide education opportunities and creative alternatives during the critical after-school hours and show our youth that there are adults who believe in them and their futures. One of our participants after a Junior Players program said that they felt like they were not just a student but a “fellow collaborator on a project” while another noted that they deeply appreciated they fact that our teaching artists did “not just tell me I had potential. I saw firsthand what I could do with access to people who have experience and know-how”.
- Participation in arts activities teaches life and social skills.
Through arts activities, our youth learn how to interact with each other and the world around them. The social and emotional skills that participation in arts activities teaches our youth help them throughout the rest of their lives with both interpersonal relationship and common workplace etiquette. In fact, the 2021 State of the Arts Report by the Texas Cultural Trust states that arts education prepares the 21st century workforce by developing core competencies and interpersonal skills, including creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration.
While participating in Junior Players free arts programming, our youth learn the power of collaboration, how to develop confidence in their own voices and ideas, and that they have a team of supporters across the state who believe in them, their dreams, and their futures. Through participation in the arts, our youth gain more tolerance towards one’s and others emotions, a more balanced view of the social world, and an enhanced social identity. After participating in a Junior Players program, more than 80% of participants feel more confident speaking in front of people, more than 70% feel better about themselves, and more than 65% feel like they have learned something new about themselves.
- Participation in arts activities help improve mental health.
Participation in arts activities improves the mental health of our youth in a variety of ways from increasing self-esteem to growing positive peer relationships and support networks and even leading to a decrease in symptoms related to depression, anxiety, and social stress. Those who participate in arts activities see a 32% lower risk of developing depression according to the 2021 State of the Arts Report by the Texas Cultural Trust and, according to a Junior Players participant, participating in Junior Players programming “gives people hope. There’s many kids in Dallas – there’s many kids all over the world – who might have a love for theater, who might have a love for storytelling, who might have a love for dance, playwrighting, anything but they don’t have the funds – they don’t have the means to get to it and Junior Players offers that completely free”
Junior Players also incorporates SEL (social emotional learning) into all of our programming – utilizing the core value of the arts and enhancing it to ensure our participants are able to develop the long-term improvements in skills, behavior, and academic performance while reducing anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
- Participation in arts activities helps grow a more connected community.
Through the arts, our youth learn how to interact with the world around them and that their voices and their feelings are important. That they have a voice. The 2021 State of the Arts Report by the Texas Cultural Trust states that young adults who have intensive arts experiences in high school are more likely to show civic-minded behavior than young adults who did not.
Art binds. Art brings people together both physically – at galleries, museums, performance spaces, etc. and culturally, through its capacity to tell a community’s shared story – not just your story or my story but our story, how we live and learn and grow as a community. Art inspires reflection and forms connections that transcend cultural barriers to create bridges – so that we are not operating on differing levels, but together, side-by-side.
After participating in a Junior Players program, participants have mentioned “the warmth” that participating in Junior Players programming brings. One participant said that while participating in Junior Players “you are always treated as a family member and as a person” while another said “I have so many close friends that are like family now to me, the bonding it creates, you can’t find it anywhere else”.
- Participation in arts activities give students a place to thrive and express their creativity.
One of the more obvious benefits of participation in arts activities is often the one that is left out and that is the simple fact that participation in arts activities leads to more artists and more art for the world to enjoy! A new television show to binge watch or gallery to take a date to – a new experience that helps our community become more reflective of the people who live in it.
Art gives meaning. Meaning to our lives, our purpose, our understanding of the world. Art increases our self-awareness, allows us to have a deeper understanding of our emotions, creates curiosity and openness to new ideas and experiences, where would the world be without the creative fire that fueled every new invention, without someone to ask “what if”? Art opens our minds and our hearts and shows us not only what is, but what could be. And in order for this to happen our youth need a place where they can feel free to express themselves. A place where they can learn and grow and show the world who they are and all of the wonderful things they have to offer.
Junior Players works to create safe spaces for all of our students where they can do just that – learn to be themselves. Through participation in the arts, our youth grow into tomorrow’s leaders, creating a better, brighter future for us all. After participating in a Junior Players program, one of our participants said, “we got to work alongside professionals who’ve been in the field, who still are in the field and are really excited to work with students like me no matter our socioeconomic background, no matter where we came from, what we look like, which is something that is very important to me”.
Junior Players understands the importance of the arts in the development of life skills and works every day to fight against the barriers that stand in the way of equitable access to the arts. Too many youth are silenced because of realities outside of their control. Income, language proficiency and school district funding can limit their ability to believe in themselves. Junior Players exists to encourage, empower, and enrich the lives of North Texas children and youth with the skills and abilities to confidently express themselves at home, in school, and in their professional lives.
All Junior Players programming is completely free to our participant and we are located at schools, libraries, recreation centers, and more all across North Texas! For the most up-to-date information on Junior Players programming, visit our website! We are very excited to announce that our annual summer Discover Theater classes are back and being offered both in-person and virtual! These programs are open to youth ages 7 through 14 – visit juniorplayers.org/summer for more information on how to sign-up today!Since all of our programming is FREE to participants, it is only through the generosity of various individuals, foundations, and corporations that we are able to provide high-quality and meaningful arts education opportunities to the youth of North Texas. Help us make a difference in the lives of 15,000 kids and teens by making a donation today.