Creating A Positive Impact
While CAA works in many venues and with different populations, the bulk of programming is focused on youth.
“(We) engage children’s minds in a different way that opens their minds and motivates,” said Modrick.
CAA’s teaching model doesn’t include grades or teaching to the test. Instead, CAA artists try to bring out students’ talents by encouraging them to excel without making them feel like their work is wrong.
“Often people see making art as something you have to be good at, or you have to have specific talent,” said Quiroga. “…I work with teenagers, and they take risks all the time. They take risks by doing negative things… but making art is intimidating (for them).”
Workshops by CAA artists allow participants to take positive risks in a supportive environment. The non-judgmental spirit of Class Acts Arts can be especially beneficial for students who are struggling academically or behaviorally.
Denise Rocco, general music teacher at Cedar Lane School, a self-contained program for students with severe disabilities, sang the praises of CAA.
“We’ve been using Class Acts Arts exclusively for a few years,” she said. “They adapt what they are doing to meet the needs of our students.”
Because some students’ disabilities preclude them from attending live performances in public venues, CAA visits to Cedar Lane afford the children opportunities they might not otherwise have.
Music in particular, Rocco said, can help break down barriers and have positive physical and mental effects on her students.
“Most people enjoy music and these kids are no different. There are kids whose muscles are always tight, and when the music is on, they can relax. It can be very calming if they’re agitated or anxious. It’s something they can be successful at. They can shake a tambourine and control the sound they’re making.” (Next)