The past two years have been tough for young people, especially those who are already dealing with issues such as economic hardship or a parent’s drug addiction. But through participation in the arts, teens can find new ways to express themselves and connect with others, building resilience that will serve them throughout their lives.

At a recent event hosted by Greenville Women Givea pair of artists who work extensively with students offered an insider’s perspective on how the arts uplift young people in our community.

Greenville Women Giving Arts Arts-Teen Resilience Jordan Gibbs

Kimberly Simms Gibbs, director of arts education for the Metropolitan Arts Councilmanages Smart ARTS, a collaboration with Greenville County Schools. The program trains artists and teachers to integrate the arts into the classroom with the aim of better engaging students and improving achievement in English/Language, Math, Science and Social Studies.

“Children have lost so much during the pandemic, including 140,000 who have lost their parents. The arts are a great way to bring them back to where they need to be,” Gibbs said. “I have seen how students are moved by the visual arts, theatre, poetry and music. »

Gibbs, a poet, invited event attendees to experience the transformative power of art by reciting a poem she wrote after the loss of her mother-in-law. She also encouraged participants to see Broadcast on April 28 by SCETV of a poetic slam featuring students from League Academy. When teens have such opportunities to share and make art, it builds resilience, she said.

A second way the arts promote resilience is by enabling teens to take risks in a safe environment, such as working in a new medium. Gibbs referenced another SmartARTS unit in which students from Greenville High School created heart-themed concept art in multiple mediums.

To Tanglewood High SchoolSmartARTS students worked together to create a mural inspired by the history of protest as part of their social studies class.

“The arts also create community between peers, teachers and family, which builds resilience in adolescents. As they develop their passion, purpose and meaning, they deepen their connections with their peers and the adults in their lives,” Gibbs said. “Finally, when they express their emotions through the arts, whether it’s drumming, visual arts, or poetry slam, they are better equipped to process trauma.”

Matt Gillessouth carolina kidsThe theater’s artistic director, recalls finding his voice through theater, particularly a production of ‘The Music Man,’ transforming from a shy ninth grader hiding in the choir room to student body president in his final year. Gile said the arts encourage imaginative and creative impulses, as well as a sense of place and meaning.

“In theatre, our goal is to create a space where every teenager is valued, respected and accepted for who they are,” he said. “We try to unite the ability to see the world as it is with the ability to see the world as it could be.”

Suzanne Cinquemani, Greenville Women Give co-chair, said that in addition to group grants to nonprofit organizations in Greenville County, the group encourages group learning by providing year-round educational opportunities for members and guests. These programs focus on community needs and innovative solutions to these challenges.

MAC Director of Arts Education Kimberly Simms Gibbs and SCCT Artistic Director Matt Giles speak at an event hosted by Greenville Women Giving.

“Each year grants and education to Greenville Women Givings five funding areas (arts, education, environment, health and social services) reflect the organizations holistic vision to support our community,” Cinquemani said. “This educational session, Spotlight on Arts, brought us together with two Greenville arts organizations to learn more about their programs as well as the opportunities the arts provide to support teens facing a myriad of challenges and stresses in their lives. .”

For more information on the SmartARTS programto visit https://www.greenvillearts.com/smartarts. For more information about SCCT, visit https://scchildrenstheatre.org/.