Posts Tagged 'YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas'

Community Connection: It's All About the Kids

Even though school is not in session, we work with many children through tours and outreach programs during the summer months.  We partner with YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas in a weeklong program that includes two interactive Museum tours along with three art-making visits to the branches.  Town North YMCA and Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club have participated in this partnerhip for several years, and their staff (Katherine from Town North YMCA and Cherri from Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club) participated in planning sessions for this summer’s program.


Katherine Ansley, Child Care Director of Town North YMCA

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Katherine:  The best thing about it is working with the kids.  When everything on the administrative side is crazy, I know I can go and play a game of Battleship and relax for a bit.  Spending time with the kids reminds me that everything is not as bad as I think it is.  It helps you forget about yourself for a second, which is really great.

Cherri:  The kids. I get paid to be around kids every day.

You have been a strong supporter of the DMA partnership program.  What motivates you to make sure your students have this experience?

Katherine:  I think it’s valuable. I always remember a field trip to a museum in elementary school.  I saw a piece of art and I just wanted to sit there and look at it.  I was fortunate to have a teacher who let me do that, and I want to make sure other kids can have that moment.

Cherri:  I want the kids to be exposed to everything.  I don’t want them to be limited. We live in an urban area, and I want to expose them to as much as possible.  Art is for everyone, and that is my belief.  Plus, I love art.


Cherri Rowe, Program Coordinator at Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club

The YMCAs and Boys & Girls Clubs are very busy places during the summer.  How do you unwind after a full day or week of work?

Katherine:  When it’s been a real stressful day, my best friend usually takes me for sushi.  That is the best way for me to chill out.  Sushi is fun because you can try new things.

Cherri:  I love to read and I love to bowl – I’m crazy about bowling.  I go to the movies.  I sleep.  I’ll go outside and sit on my porch and write. Sometimes I have to get out of the house and relax, and sometimes I want to stay in. I love to hang out with my sisters or my mom.

One of our summer tours is called Summer Vacation, and we ask the students where they would most like to travel during the summer.  If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Katherine:  I would love to go to Rome, because I want to see the ruins and architecture there.  It’s fascinating to see how they did all that stuff without modern technology.

 Cherri:  Italy. I would take two months off work and tour the entire country.  I would stay two or three days in each city.  Italy seems so beautiful and has so much history.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Community Connection: Write to be Heard, the Power of Spoken Word

During the 2008-09 school year, we partnered with Spoken Word artist Will Richey for our afterschool program.  Will led weekly workshops at YMCA’s and Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the Metroplex.  Students were encouraged to write original poetry inspired by their lives and by artworks from the Museum.  The afterschool program concluded with performances by the students at their branches, a reception at the Museum, and a book of poems by all program participants.  For about four months, Will and I saw each other or spoke almost daily.  Afterward, we both became busy with different projects, so it was a treat to catch up with him over lunch.

Will Richey

The animated Will Richey

What first made you want to become an artist?

The artistic side is my mom’s influence.  She had me in art and piano lessons as a child.  My first love was basketball, and that seemed to get in the way of my art.  As an adult, I’ve reconnected with my creative, artistic spirit.  I feel it honors my mom to be well-rounded.  She is Puerto Rican, and the arts are a very strong part of that culture.  My mother wanted to instill that in me, so I have an appreciation for different types of art – dance, music, performance, visual art, and poetry.

Tell us about Journeyman Ink.

Journeyman Ink. is a way of connecting my personal life and journey with my desire to transcend and connect cultures, creeds, and races through creative expression.  In the fall of 2001, I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a 500 mile walking pilgrimmage across northwest Spain.  This experience taught me that life is more about the journey than the destination.  Ever since then, I’ve tried to make the most of every day.  That’s what we’re trying to do with Journeyman Ink.  Through Spoken Word performances, creative art workshops, and speaking opportunities, we try to encourage people of all ages to embrace life as a journey.  Look for more information at in 2010.

Describe your approach to teaching Spoken Word to students.

The best way I can answer this question is with the first four lines of a new piece:

     It’s not about poetry, it’s about personal connection
     It’s not about writing, it’s about self-expression
     It’s not about reading aloud, it’s about taking pride in your name
     It’s not about performing for the crowd, but realizing we’re all the same

Of course, Spoken Word is about all of these things, but my philosophy is that I am a facilitator.  I am not there to impose my craft on someone.  I’m there to draw out the interests, the personality, the dreams of the kids.

Will works with a student at Westlake Village Boys & Girls Club.

Will works with a student at Westlake Village Boys & Girls Club.

 What serves as inspiration for your work?

I’m very inspired by the human story.  I try to help people understand we have so much more in common than we are different.  We have so many barriers (religion, academic achievement, economic status) that get in the way, but the bottom line is we are all connected.  We all share the human experience. 

Could you write a short poem about today’s lunch?  (No pressure!)

Today is an opportunity – a joyous moment
     Shared over good food and conversation
Reminiscing over magical collaborations
     And answering questions with purpose.
Blessed with friendship and creativity
     Connecting the DMA with young artists
Realizing we have nothing more than today
     To smile and let our light shine!

Will signed his impromptu poem, which was written on the back of a to-do list.  I hung it with pride next to my desk.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Learning Partnerships with the Community


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