Arts Train: Learning through the Arts

ARTS TRAIN™: LEARNING THROUGH THE ARTS was a unique Broward Community Arts Education Partnership (CAEP) grant funded program, a partnership between Ms. Darby Hayes, Arts Integration Specialist and the Department of Hollywood Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts (HPRCA).  Its main objective was to provide arts-based professional development training to the Dept. of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts' recreation workforce, focused on serving youth in its after-care programs at McNicol, Kay Gaither, Martin Luther King and Washington Park Community Centers.

102_0212Stories are powerful.

Stories shape our ideas about what’s possible.

Park staff engaged youth to participate in the Power of Story project. Both staff and youth experienced a series of workshops that resulted in the creation of art-filled body portraits. Staff learned how to integrate arts as learning experiences that expanded academic skills associated with language learning and mathematics. Integral to this cultural enrichment project was the cultivation of higher order thinking skills associated with creative thinking, such as designing, writing, constructing and assembling.


Youth and staff alike worked together to produce this final body portrait exhibit of Power of Story. After surviving a lengthy pause of four months of inactivity due to the pandemic, their portrait projects found new life to become a final display.

The visual art forms of graphic design and collage were used to create art-filled body portraits. Youth were guided to reflect on their personal attributes that became represented in the portraits. They learned how to use descriptive words to formulate creative narratives for the telling of their portraits’ stories. To prepare for the culminating performance youth were coached in oral presentation of their self-reflective narratives. Enjoy the dynamics of their spoken words that accompany the visual displays of these young artists. 

For the HPRCA workforce, Learning through the Arts demonstrated the value of integrating qualified arts and cultural enrichment curricula in parks’ after-care programs. This novel approach to staff development in arts-based learning provided a hands-on learning-by-doing experience for staff and their youth patrons.  For the HPRCA workforce, it expanded knowledge and understanding about different art forms and techniques capitalized on improving skills in facilitating qualified arts-based learning projects. 

Power of Story offered valued self-rMcNicol 1eflection as well as an opportunity to develop interpersonal skills among young participants. This enrichment project provided an holistic integrated learning experience for the youth increasing knowledge, encouraging social and emotional health, and improving physical skills for constructing expressive art works. While having fun with visual and literary art, telling their stories through the body portrait experience naturally elevated self-esteem, enhanced self-reliance and cooperation, promoted listening skills and fostered appreciation of self and others. All in all, Power of Story added new arts-based dimensions to the HPRCA after school programs and stimulated the development of creative and critical thinking skills among our young.  

Special thanks to the Broward County Cultural Division and Broward Commission for funding this Arts Train™ project. Congratulations all!

Arts Partners 

Darby Hayes, M.Ed., is a professional arts integration consultant who designed and directed the Arts Train™: Learning through the Arts grant project. Through her Power of Performance® company she has delivered both personal and professional development programs to communities and businesses for over thirty-five years. Darby’s grant supported programs have benefited hundreds of teachers and youth, adults and older adults throughout South Florida. She is an apt program planner and facilitator when it comes to integrated arts-based learning. She remained steadfast with the Power of Story during the 4-month pause, resuming with a virtual recap and instruction and demonstrating and coaching Power of Story lessons for the park staff to complete. Darby leaves the recreation workforce with a foundation of best practices in instructional design and delivery that will be used throughout the coming seasons.

McNicol Youth Geometric DesigningThe Dept. of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts is pleased to share the value of community arts partnerships such as this. We are grateful to the Department’s staff for facilitating the project’s completion. We extend our special thanks to the Broward County Cultural Division for bringing us the teaching artistry skills and talents of Darby Hayes. Our collaboration accomplished much needed stimulation and interaction of youth as well as staff. We all benefited from the inherent social and emotional support in Power of Story project, especially during a stressful time that demanded separation and isolation among youth in our serviced communities. We commend our dedicated park coordinators, leaders and aids for their efforts in bringing this project to completion.

1 Broward-Cultural-Division_logo_2000wBroward County Statement

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