The mission of The Jackson School of the Arts (JSA) is to make the arts accessible to all children regardless of their financial means. United Way funds are used as JSA scholarships for families whose income is below the poverty line. At risk youth have access to high quality art, dance and theatre instruction in a nurturing environment with positive adult role models. A sustained community arts education promotes physical health, cognitive development and improved self-esteem. If the full cost of the JSA programs were passed on to all families, only those with ample disposable income would have their children in these programs.
Here are a couple JSA success stories that demonstrate the effectiveness of their programs in our community. First, a grandparent wrote to the JSA about the positive reaction their grandchild had to the JSA Creation Station.
Just wanted to mention I took Jacob to an art class at Jackson School of the Arts last night and he had an absolutely wonderful time!!!! He wants to go back today but unfortunately the class doesn’t meet till next Tuesday evening. In the past he has not wanted much to do with any kind of art. We’ve taken him to classes at the museum and he basically just refused to participate.
I guess his artistic side has started to mature and in the last month he has started to color like crazy and even get into some crafting. I ran into Kim (JSA Executive Director) last week and asked her what they might have going on and she suggested “Creation Station” on Tuesday evenings. I dropped him off last night and when I returned I could tell by the huge smile on his face he was having a ball. He was the last student to finish up because he just wanted to keep working. Susan (his mom) said the class was all he could talk about until she put him to bed and he work up this morning asking if he could go back again today. What a great opportunity for kids in our community to be able to enjoy the arts!!!
Finally, United Way funds were able to help a family that fell upon hard times.
Tyler is a 5 yr old boy who was diagnosed with Ponto Cerebellar Hypoplasia at the age of 4. There is no cure. Up until the age of almost 4, he was just another one of the cute blonde haired boys who enjoyed baseball, running, Superman and taking dance classes at our school. Tyler began to complain of his legs feeling tired and didn’t want to throw balls around the yard anymore. After months of testing and his symptoms becoming worse, he was taken to St. Louis to meet with a specialist, who then gave his family the horrible terminal diagnosis.
Meanwhile, his brother and sister continued to take dance classes with us, but were absent more and more often. After a phone call to check on them, the dad came in to explain their situation. His wife was 7 months pregnant with baby #4, their financial resources were drying up as they made numerous trips to doctor’s out of town and had to pay for medications not covered under their insurance. The kids dance classes would have to be cut from their budget. He wept as he explained their situation, and what it would do to the kids. He said, “Nothing has been normal around our house for the past year.”
Because of funding from United Way, Jackson School of the Arts was able to offer the family the final 3 months of dance at no cost, along with reserved handicapped seating at the recital at no charge. There were many tears of gratitude, along with asking us to join their family pictures. Both mom and dad have expressed deep appreciation for helping in one way to keep things a little more “normal” for their family.