Nearly 20,000 students from all grades at more than 90 schools in the city are enrolled in SASF programming for an array of after-school initiatives in sports, arts and academic enrichment.
Leonardo Vullaro, director of strategic initiatives at SASF, said without the program, students from dozens of schools around the city would simply be left out of any form of extracurricular enrichment.
“The current state of education doesn’t always allow for opportunities around arts, education and sports activities,” Vullaro said. “We really work with the schools to find and fill those gaps.”
Everything from sculpture to fashion design, as well as printmaking, filmmaking, digital media and dance, were on display Friday night, as children showed off their work to their parents and peers.
Melanie Morales, 10, is enrolled in the SASF at P.S. 70 in Astoria, and said she would never have discovered her love of printmaking, or art for that matter, without the program.
“I designed a lot of things and it showed how I am myself and how I like to explain myself, and who I really am, “ Morales said.
Now that she has been introduced to the world of art, Morales added that she also plans on pursuing printmaking in the years ahead.
“I learned that I can express myself with my artwork and show how talented I am with art,” she said. “I can do anything that I want to do.”
Michelle Liang, an M.S. 896 student in Manhattan, stood next to her painting last week, and said she too learned how to express herself through the program.
“It was really fun and helpful,” Liang said or the last school year. “I got to know art more. I take art classes, but now I discovered even more.”
While walking with parents and students through the bright sculptures, paintings and African dance production, SASF visual arts coordinator Erica Garber said the variety of art really shows the full scope.
“I’m very impressed with the variety,” she said. “When you have an art lesson where every child creates something that looks very unique, that’s a successful lesson.”
She added, “When you look around this gallery, the ideas and messages they tell are really filled with depth.”
SASF CEO Jim O’Neill said he too was fascinated with the creativity and enthusiasm from everyone involved.
“This show is really a major effort to showcase all of the great talent of the kids,” O’Neill said.
Although there are many schools that have applied but were unable to take a part in the grant-based program this year, he is confident that a new vision from the city will help expand to more schools and students.
“We’re thrilled that the mayor has prioritized after-school programs,” O’Neill said. “He often talks about sports and arts as the model. We want healthy kids, we want fit kids, and the arts is another wonderful way to help the children.”