Students sprout in Tree of HOPE
DENVER – For the fourth year, students from HOPE Online Academy were invited to participate during the Día del Niño celebration at Denver’s Civic Center Cultural Complex.
Every April, the Denver Art Museum, History Colorado Center and downtown museums welcome dancers, singers and other artists to celebrate Mexican culture. This year HOPE Online students performed on several stages.
The biggest performance, Tree of HOPE on Sunday afternoon, incorporated dozens of students from three HOPE centers — I Am, Hillcrest and Awaken.
“It's an amazing opportunity,” said HOPE Online CEO Heather O’Mara. “They're not only performing in front of their parents, but the entire community.”
The performance offered the opportunity for the students to showcase their art, music, visual arts and dance, in front of a packed audience.
“It really gives them an opportunity to give back to their community, practice their professionalism and showcase their talents,” O’Mara said.
The performance was student-led and focused on protecting the environment and honoring the different cultures incorporated in HOPE’s centers.
“We need to honor this history. We need to learn from it and we need to teach it to one another,” O’Mara said.
Through HOPE’s Arts Across Culture program, the center’s students with world-renowned artists and musicians.
“These children are able to have one-on-one instruction with some of the best artists in the world,” said the program’s director, Janelle Ayon. “At risk children who would normally not have any exposure to the arts have the opportunity to learn about music, dance, visual and media arts, with first class artist mentors.”
Over the past four years, since the program was initiated, it has helped create therapeutic outlets for the kids, who Ayon says are involved in a type of urban warfare.
“I really feel that the opportunity to be creative and express themselves, gives these kids an opportunity to succeed and strive in their lives,” Ayon said. “It is not arts for leisure or arts for recreation, it's arts for survival.”
As demonstrated by the collaboration between the three HOPE Online Centers during the Día del Niño celebration, art has a unique ability to bring people together—regardless of their culture.
“It's a tool that erases cultural differences and cultural barriers,” Ayon said.