My involvement with NYA started last Spring 2022 when I was finishing my post-graduate certificate in Arts Management and searching for an arts organization to work with as an intern. Going through NYA’s Impact and Annual Reports page, it didn’t take long for me to put NYA at the top of my list. Working to address the needs of not only artists and arts organizations, but the community as a whole through different types of art is a remarkable endeavor that I wanted to be a part of.

I am currently with NYA doing administrative support and I take pride knowing that the seemingly minute details of my work in the organization ripple through the bigger successes that happen in our community programs.

Prior to joining NYA, I worked as a kindergarten teacher for more than 10 years. I believe that the arts is a powerful tool in shaping the future. My background in psychology and my passion for the arts are woven into my pedagogical approach as I find creative ways to engage my students in art-playing and art-making. Promoting the arts at school is imperative as a means for students’ self-expression and understanding identity. The arts bring an array of benefits to children’s growth and development including increased self-confidence, enhanced communication skills, and improved cognition.

In 2020, I’ve completed a research that centered around visual expressive arts and student anxiety for my MA in Educational Studies (Special Education) program. My study has investigated and provided information on student anxiety present in schools, the causes, different types, signs and symptoms, and their externalizing behaviors observed in students in the classroom. I also gathered a resource on visual expressive arts (drawing, painting, sculpting, collage making, and mosaic art) used for its therapeutic function, its types, application techniques, and the possible benefits thereof to students with externalizing anxiety behaviors. Finally, a set of recommendations that can help educators integrate visual expressive arts activities into their regular classroom routines were given.

Why is this information important to share in the arts community? As student anxiety becomes an increasing concern in the classroom especially that the recent pandemic exacerbated it, teachers who form the frontline in supporting these students need all the necessary resources that could enable them to support students, (without waiting for the school’s mental health services that are often inaccessible to many students). As mentioned earlier, the arts have a powerful contribution in the development of our youth towards success. When funding and budget cuts threaten arts education and programming in schools, opportunities are taken away from students, and to many, it can hurt academically and psychologically.

As community members, artists, and the workforce behind arts organizations, we are part of the village that collectively raises and supports our youth and sets them up for success. We have to stand guard, be more proactive, and continue to be creative and resourceful in saving the arts for our youth. After all, art saves!