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Group helps kids find their creative side

July 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The tough economy is hitting everyone hard, especially nonprofit organizations whose purpose is to help communities. But one Los Angeles group has found a way to channel creativity and make some businesses look better at the same time.They are learning to stay within the lines on the paper and in life. Students in Inglewood at the Alliance County District school for at risk kids are getting in touch with their artistic side.

Student Moises Juarez gets a lot out of the program.

"It allows me to express myself in a different way either through writing or through music," said Juarez.

Dominque Leftage compares it to discipline.

"It's mainly like the discipline you get and the inspiration you get to express yourself. It really helps you out in terms of reaching a goal," said Leftage.

The art instruction is provided by Theatre of Hearts - Youth First. The nonprofit is always struggling for funding, but it is even harder in a recession, which is why Theatre of Hearts is turning to a unique way to raise money. The organization is lending the student art work to local businesses in exchange for a donation.

Sheila Scott Wilinson of Theatre of Hearts says it's a good way to get involved.

"This art lending program is a way that the community, a business, lawyers, doctors can have beautiful framed artwork in their surroundings and feel that they have empowered our youngsters," said Wilinson.

Theatre of Hearts thinks of it as a win-win situation. Not only is the donation tax-deductable, but those who provide a donation get to keep the art work for a set period of time. Meanwhile, the donations keep the program in place.

Instructors insist they can see the difference it makes with students. Instructor Heriberto Luna finds once his students get started creating artwork, they believe in themselves and believe they can create something beautiful.

Drawings, paintings and other works grace the school's walls. They are created by kids who, without this program, would probably never get the chance to show the artist within.

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