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Art Enrichment Program at the Y in Brooksville

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The concept of arts education is in itself the makings of a masterpiece. Through its $1,000 Community Arts Grant to YMCA of the Suncoast Hernando County for its South Brooksville Art Enrichment Program, the Greater Hernando Arts Council is determined to help area kids discover and achieve their artistic potential.

The YMCA presents Turning Imagination into Masterpieces, an art enrichment program intended for children ages 5-12. The program is happening Feb. 15 through March 31 and April 5 through May 12, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 800 John Gary Grubbs Blvd., Brooksville. The cost is $25 for a six-week session; scholarships are available. Registration is required.

“Kids can grow so much when they have the opportunity to explore their imagination and creative side. Our Y arts program celebrates creativity, individuality, respect and diversity,” read a program notice. “Kids will discover their inner artist and have the opportunity to learn techniques of painting, drawing, illustration, clay and others. Each child will create their own masterpieces to show and share.”

Amber Slusser, MA, Branch Executive Director for YMCA of the Suncoast–Hernando County, sees the program as a prime opportunity for students to discover and cultivate a love and talent for visual arts.

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“We are offering six-week sessions that meet twice a week for an hour. The benefit of the program is that students will be introduced to various art formats that they may not get the opportunity to learn in school and if they are introduced in school, then it will give the students more of an opportunity to explore those formats with more time,” said Slusser. “Hopefully students will gain an increased sense of appreciation for various forms of art, find the form that they can express themselves best with and gain self-confidence while interacting with positive role models.”

As with any great work of art, an even more beneficial ‘bigger picture’ serves to frame the Turning Imagination into Masterpieces program.

“We are trying to start a few programs in South Brooksville utilizing the space that we have been allowed to use in the Enrichment Center thanks to the approval by the Brooksville City Council. The YMCA has been working to build some partnerships to start providing some consistent programming and build a stronger presence in the Brooksville area to truly serve as the Hernando County YMCA,” said Slusser. “This art enrichment is part of some afterschool programming that we plan to provide to the youth in South Brooksville in order to provide more constructive activities in the after school hours so 1) they are not home alone, 2) they get the assistance that they may need with afterschool homework and 3) to provide a positive environment to counteract some of the community circumstances in that area. These programs will include homework help, science enrichment and art enrichment.”

In the view of Arts Council Chair Beth Putnam, arts education is an essential component of a child’s growth and development.

“With the minimizing of art programs in schools, the Council has prioritized educating more children in the arts to improve their academic and developmental success,” said Putnam.

Cheryl Hill, Community Arts Grants Coordinator of the Hernando County Fine Arts Council, sees the YMCA arts education program as a true team effort in the Hernando community.

“Brooksville City Council member Blake Bell was instrumental in bringing both parties together to provide a $1,000 Community Arts Grant for the YMCA’s South Brooksville Art Enrichment Program,” said Hill. “The project will take place in South Brooksville and will facilitate children exploring their imaginations by learning about and creating art.”

Bell agrees.

“One of my goals when elected to the city council is working with the YMCA to benefit the children of Brooksville,” he said. “I gave my push and support for this grant because I believe that there are children in our community that need the help and supervision of an adult in their lives.”

Blake believes they also might need a little in the way of creative inspiration.

“This program will help students develop their artistic abilities,” he explained. “By providing them with the guidance and materials they need, we can foster the growth of artists. They can get the arts education they might be missing in school, giving them a chance they need.”

“Who knows how many future Hernando artists we’ll find in this program?”

Enrollment is still open for the initial session of Turning Imagination into Masterpieces.
To register, visit https://tinyurl.com/2p8jy3uj or call 352-688-9622.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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