DNDA’s Summer Youth Program

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We at DNDA are celebrating another successful and enriching experience with our Summer Youth Program (SYP).

High Point Soccer squad circling up after a great practice

SYP offered expansive art, recreational, and educational programming at no cost to families living in the Seattle Housing Authority housing sites in the High Point, NewHolly, and Rainier Vista neighborhoods.  Longtime favorites such as cooking, soccer, EcoArts in the park, and block parties once again brought hundreds of residents outdoors for fun, good food, and connection. This year, DNDA continued to expand our programs to offer relevant and innovative options to our communities, prioritizing local teaching artists that reflect the youth we work so closely with. In total, DNDA activated 17 different programs and 4 community block party events across the three housing sites serving 350 youth and their families.

A youth from NewHolly neighborhood displaying an abstract art project

Young NewHolly resident proudly sharing her work at a Fun Friday block party

New additions to our programs included Virtual Reality, Self-Love Art Club, and EcoArts: Public Art. The common thread between these new class offerings are that they served as pathways for youth to exercise their agency and see in real time how their choices impact the community around them. Through different art-making processes, youth got the chance to try new things and communicate their ideas.

Youth participate in the SYP Virtual Reality program

We are shining a program spotlight on our Virtual Reality class taught in High Point this summer. Youth who were particularly excited about designing in VR came together for the class twice a week. They used Meta Oculus Quest 2 headsets to design their ‘world’ that they would share with their community at the end of the summer. The students planned, designed, and created their artistic virtual spaces over the course of six weeks. Even with technical hiccups along the way, they created magnificent spaces with the relatively simple tools they had access to. Teaching artist Beverly Aarons’ experience as a Black woman who works in VR game development offered incredibly valuable insight for the students who participated in the workshop. In between the group discussions and practicing with VR, we saw that this space offered a well-rounded experience for the kids.

Community members join a DNDA block party

At the end of the summer, the students participated in a VR showcase sharing their projects with their friends and families. It was invigorating to see the community’s excited response to what their neighbors had created. You can see a YouTube compilation video of their projects here.

We are grateful to continue offering quality programs in deep partnership with other nonprofits and in the various spaces we are connected with, and we look forward to a continued partnership with Seattle Housing Authority in the future.

-Written by DNDA EcoArts Program Coordinator Erin Kollar