by Cesca Janece Waterfield
The Countywide Youth Music and Arts (CYMA) workshop begins March 14 and runs through May 2. CYMA’s mission is to develop character, self esteem and leadership in youth by training them in dance, drama and music. The free 8-week workshop is hosted by a different area church each week, and culminates in their 14th Annual Concert at St. Paul’s, 4247 Creighton Rd. May 3 at 5 pm. This year’s theme, “My Life, My Purpose, My Community,” highlights the personal and social responsibility nurtured by this workshop, which also serves as a scholarship program.
Jake Holmes, Founder of CYMA says, “Our goal is to afford each child the opportunity to be creatively free with their talents, while enhancing their skills culturally, and building their self-worth in a positive environment.” With workshop classes in stepping, praise and hip hop dance, poetry and gospel rap, mime, band instrument instruction, and youth and adult choir, there’s something to meet any interest. All classes are taught by professional performers known for their expertise. Dance teachers include Letricia Loftin, Alvin Fowlkes and Dexter Martin, while choir teachers are Jake, Greg Mitchell and Darryl Walker.
CYMA representative Felisha Jones says, “Not only are the instructors able to relate to the youth, they have a gift for being able to serve as a sort of parent when the kids are in their presence. They’re open to allowing the youth to be free in the areas they’re talented in. It just builds such self esteem, and it shows youth that there is a safe haven where they can be free.”
In the past, up to 20 Richmond area churches have participated. This year, organizers hope to reach even more. Felisha says the age of participants ranges from small children as young as 5 up to age 18. “Instructors have mastered the ability to break them down into specific groups and get them to come together on one accord. They don’t want to turn away any youth.”
Another aim of the program is to bring together inner-city and suburban youth to bond in activities including worship service and Bible study, a scholarship pageant, and “Got Talent,” an individual talent showcase open to the public.
Church and individual registration is happening now and donations are welcome. Register by calling Jake Holmes at 651-6846 or Nikitta Barrett at 837-3655. www.CountywideProductions.com