Centro Nueva Creación promotes resilience in young people through educational enrichment and engagement in the Arts and Latino Cultures

Everything is colorful,

so much light and dreams,

Butterflies flying around

And bees buzzing up and down.

It's like a garden where you plant your hopes

and dreams.

It even gives us air to breathe,

It gives beauty to our world,

It gives food to some insects.

It's like a work of art

That is sometimes not appreciated.

It shows the value of the earth

To people and animals,

It has the beauty we need

To make earth a happier place.

by Jennifer Rodriguez, age 10

Centro Nueva Creación (Centro) is located in the Fairhill section of North Philadelphia, a center of Philadelphia’s Latino community. Centro opened in 1994 in response to a community survey that revealed concerns about the negative impact the neighborhood had on its children. Labeled the “Badlands” by the media, at that time Fairhill was one of Philadelphia’s most depressed and dangerous neighborhoods: 61% of Fairhill’s residents lived in poverty; more than 50% of Fairhill’s children did not graduate from high school; and drugs sales were a Fairhill industry.

A July 2012 survey indicated that the need for Cento’s program is as important in 2012 as it was in 1994. More than 50% of the children served by Centro come from single caregiver homes; the majority of the students are “economically disadvantaged;” and many of them struggle academically. The 2010 School Performance Index for William Cramp Elementary School (where 90% of Centro students attend) indicates that nearly 95% of students are economically disadvantaged. Caregivers reported that the most important services Centro offers include: 1) safety during out-of-school-time; 2) homework help; 3) exposure to the arts; and 4) an opportunity to socialize with their peers.

Centro offers arts and Latino culture-based out-of-school time programs to children in K-5th grade. Students receive homework help, individualized tutoring, and access to a well-stocked library. Students also participate in arts and culture workshops that include photography, poetry, mural painting, gardening, and Bomba dance and drumming. (Bomba is a traditional folk music style of Puerto Rico). All of these classes are taught by professional artists. Student art work and performances are showcased throughout the Fairhill neighborhood and the broader Philadelphia community through art exhibitions.

Not only is participating in the arts for arts' sake important, Centro believes that through the arts and cultural education, students can build important 21st century skills, including communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

From September 2012 through June 2013, Centro’s after school program will work with the theme Goodlands in Focus (GIF). Implementing the project-based learning model, GIF will employ photography, poetry, and other visual, literary, and performing arts to provide children with experiences that enable them to develop a personal voice and a positive identity that will contribute to their success both in and out of school. Each student will participate in photography and poetry workshops on a weekly basis as a part of engaging, real-world projects that appeal to children, beginning with self-exploration and moving outward to family, community, city, country and world.

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