One of the most fulfilling things I am able to do is volunteer at the Queens Public Library to help teach art to troubled youth. The program I work with is called “The Second Chance” founded by DA Gail Giordano. Many of these young adults ended up in this program for committing crimes, such as vandalism, truancy, and other misdemeanors. Instead of being incarcerated for their crimes, the program allows them to channel their energies into a positive learning environment.
These adolescents get to learn everything from graphic design, basic computer skills, and art techniques, such as drawing, painting, and application of color. I am privileged enough to work on the latter with them. It’s amazing to see how many of these individuals are gifted in the arts. Their talents range from poetry, dance, and music, all of which I am more than happy to help them nurture and embrace. If I find a student is not as skilled in visual arts as the performing arts, I help them focus on where their passion lies.
To me it’s more important to embrace what you love and follow your destined path than to force a role you were not meant to take. When this is done, all of the necessary skills are learned with more ease. If the world were filled with people who are able to follow their dreams, there would be less people populating our jails and more people filling their hearts. That is what the second chance program allows Gail Giordano and I to work on. If we all had a chance to dance, to draw, to sing (not just in the shower), to explore, to invent, and to have a childlike curiosity again, there would be much more joy in the world.
The more happiness we have in ourselves, the less we want to destroy things. And, the less destructive we are, the better our society is for it. Although I am labeled as the teacher, I often find myself learning from them, even though many are not even of the age of 25.