Creative Kids helping disconnected youth in Fabens, TX

October 21, 2015

Of course you’ve heard of Creative Kids Inc. Who hasn’t? The award-winning visual arts education program has been recognized by the White House, named THE model after-school program in the state of Texas, and will be reaching new heights by sharing its program strategies throughout the state.

The Paso del Norte Health Foundation is a partner through the IGNITE Initiative and it’s funding the Creative Kids’ Project ABLE (Art Brokers Learning Experiences), an after-school and summer visual arts education program for youth ages 7-to-18 in Fabens, TX. This program that was the Texas Education Agency recognized as a “Best-Practice” model for after-school programs.

“This program has been so well received by the community, as we are the only after-school visual art program that is in the community,” says Creative Kids Executive Director and co-founder Andrea Gates-Ingle. Art pieces created by the Fabens kids are showcased around the Fabens community and in spaces across El Paso: the oLo gallery, El Paso County Courthouse, the El Paso International Airport, the Hospitals at Providence and the new Chuy’s restaurant for the Fountains. “This really gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment and a much needed infusion of self-esteem,” Gates-Ingle says.

She tells the story of a 15-year-old student who she says was completely disconnected from his family and school. Christin (cq) Apodaca, a Creative Kids teaching artist in Fabens, took the extra time to work and mentor him. “His attitude was completely negative and he had no interest in the art program,” Gates-Ingle says. “This particular student is now flourishing as he is assisting Christin and helping to mentor the students in the program, taking a leadership role in the program and is an ambassador helping to recruit new students.”

Transformation of youth is what Creative Kids and the Health Foundation’s IGNITE Initiative are all about. IGNITE is built around the idea that while it is important to respond to specific health problems among youth, like smoking and poor nutrition, it is also important to implement strategies that build assets for youth, effectively protecting youth from negative health outcomes and promoting a high quality of life for disconnected youth.

Project ABLE includes an intensive six-week summer session and involves 35 youth at a time. “At this time, we are at capacity with our classes,” Gates-Ingle says. She adds that soon Creative Kids’ program strategies will be available throughout the state through a partnership with Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO), a 50-state effort to bring together networks and leaders like Creative Kids Inc. to identify and spread best practices in after-school and summer learning, and to share affordable, sustainable and effective expanded learning opportunities.

Creative Kids’ involvement with ELO is further testimony that the El Paso non-profit is on the right track. Recently, the White House honored Creative Kids with its President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award – the nation’s highest honor for out-of-school programming.

“I like to say our formula for success has been passion, persistence and perseverance as well as collaborating with strategic partners in our community to help us reach our mission,” Gates-Ingle says. “Creative Kids strive to provide a high-quality visual art education program and we believe that the arts should be an essential part of a child’s life experiences and learning process.”

The IGNITE Initiative is focused on improving a range of health outcomes by engaging disconnected youth in the Paso del Norte region through out-of-school programs. The Foundation refers to “disconnected youth” as people between the ages of 7 – 18 years old who are not involved in out-of-school activities or not working.

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