ST. PETERSBURG –The Carrera Summer and Afterschool Program has become the latest casualty of positive programs for the youth. It will close its doors in July.
Launched in the summer of 2011, it was modeled after the pioneer program that began in Harlem. Housed at the Enoch Davis Center, the program pulled children from John Hopkins Middle School to help with their academic and emotional needs.
The program was funded through the Office of Adolescence, the Juvenile Welfare Board and the Pinellas County Health Department.
The news of their afterschool haven being closed has not dampened the kids’ spirits about the upcoming art show. They’ve been studying various art techniques for most of the year, and they are really excited about The Second Annual Carrera Youth Exhibition that will be held at The Studio@620, located at 620 1st Ave., this Friday and Saturday. The event is free to the public and the student’s artwork will be up for sale.
Self-expression Coordinator Marcela Estevez is still excited about the soon to be defunct program, the dedicated staff members and her kids. She explained that the Carrera Program not only offered homework and mentoring help, but it also positively impacted the students’ entire educational experience with life skills and core values.
“This year we have been primarily focused on how to use watercolor and acrylic paints. A good portion of the works in the exhibit will showcase this,” she said.
Along with being taught watercolors and acrylics, they learned how to use charcoal and alternative media such as metal cans and fabrics. The young artists were introduced to cubism, still life, landscapes and surrealism, and were exposed to music from classical to jazz.
The Carrera program participates in the Job Club program where children earn a stipend for completing educational sessions where they learn about financing and managing checking accounts. Estevez said any money earned from their paintings will be entered into the student’s account. The children learned how to save and spend in appropriate situations.
On top of self-expression, the Pregnancy Prevention program was put in place to help girls avoid that pitfall. “We want the girls to respect themselves, their bodies and their mind. We don’t consider them at risk, we consider them at promise,” said Estevez.
She credits Carrera’s staff for their dedication: Arelia Parker and Kyler Reynolds in Education, Brenda Smith-Jones, Mental Health Specialist, Freeman Hinson, Job Club Coordinator, Marquise Grey and Lynne Swain, Family Life and Sexuality Education and Vader Green, Health and Lifetime Individual Sports coordinator.
Estevez is excited about the upcoming 2nd Annual Carrera Youth Art Festival to be showcased at Studio@620 starting this Friday. “Special thanks go to Keirsten Johnson, co-leader of the Self Expression component, for her unconditional support in the completion of the artwork for this exhibit,” Estevez stated.
The work of approximately 50 students will be on display and Estevez feels that the kids’ artwork will be surprising in their professionalism and subject matter, and feels the art will reflect some of the student’s inner emotions. “Kids have feelings and every day they go through changes. Art is used to express how they feel,” finished Estevez.
Free and opened to the public, The 2nd Annual Carrera Youth Art Festival will take place Fri., May 16 and 17. The reception will take place Friday from 5-7 p.m. Studio@620 is located 620 1st Ave. S.