Dancing, drumming, dreaming toward health & creativity, Feb 19, 2021


With the strains of remote learning and isolation from friends but overload of family, students of all ages are feeling the pressure. This is not just going stir-crazy, a feeling most of us can relate to. Our kids need an outlet, and thanks to the generous supporters of PCCY’s Picasso Project, Philadelphia school teachers, and community artists, help is on the way.

“Through Picasso Project, PCCY is able to support students through this most challenging school year.  These grant partnerships give Philadelphia kids access to transformative art experiences that bring the online classroom to life, and empower them to express themselves, connect with each other, and process this extraordinary moment in our history, and in their lives,” said Tim Gibbon, Picasso Project Director.

One of the many dynamic projects this semester is a poetry/spoken word partnership that connects literacy with the arts through a lens of wellness and self-expression.

Sally O’Brien, poetry and English teacher and spoken word coach at Kensington Health Sciences Academy High School, said “Spoken word is a confidence booster for young people. It gets them excited about writing and revision, making sure they get their point across effectively and creatively. The seniors that will be participating in this project are having a really rough time balancing work with often being responsible for younger siblings and all the stress and uncertainty of graduating. This project can help them speak their truths.”

ArtWell, a local youth-focused arts organization, will teach students at Kensington Health Sciences Academcy High School and The U School how to use poetry/spoken word as a powerful creative outlet.

Another thrilling project combines West African drumming, dance, and storytelling, which embodies the African proverb “Good drumming and dancing restores the community to wholeness.” Students at Farrell Elementary School and Vaux Big Picture High School will learn traditional West African drum and dance techniques from Dunya Performing Arts Company. Dunya connects traditions of the West African diaspora with today’s movements for social and racial justice, connecting it to today’s conversations on racial reckoning. 

We’re so proud that PCCY’s Picasso Project is funding projects at these schools: the Academy of Middle Years (AMY) at James Martin School, Bache-Martin School, Crossroad Accelerated Academy, D. Newlin Fell Elementary, Eliza B. Kirkbride School, F. Amedee Bregy School, Farrell Elementary School, Frances Scott Key Elementary School, John B. Kelly School, Kensington Health Sciences Academy High School, Lankenau Environmental Sciences Magnet High School, Mastery Charter School-Lenfest Campus, Robert E. Lamberton Elementary, Southwark School, Spring Garden School, The U School, Tilden Middle School, Vaux Big Picture High School, William H. Hunter School, and William Loesche School.

The Picasso Project brings art into the classroom by providing small grants and program support to partnerships between public school teachers and local artists. Since 2002, the Picasso Project has supported 186 projects at 105 different schools, engaging 50,000 students at all levels. 

The thousands of youth in institutions must have one place they can call when protections fail them. A dedicated Ombudsperson’s office will be a resource for victims when their cries for help go unanswered.

City Council will hold hearings concerning “recommendations to establish an independent Youth Services Ombudsperson office to receive, investigate, and report on concerns from youth and families about safety or services for young people in congregate care, secure or other forms of detention, or any institutional facility.”

Read the background and take action. 


“the hypocrisy of ted cruz trying to paint the left as the wealthy out of touch hollywood elite party and then jet setting to cancun while his state freezes to death largely due to governmental incompetence is both astounding and completely unsurprising” – @maddiecrichton on Twitter



“A large part of the problems that districts face are quite frankly from bad decisions being made somewhere along the line, not necessarily amongst those today, but it could have been bad decisions 20 years ago,” said Rep. Curt Sonney (R-Erie), chair of the House Education Committee. Read about school funding woes: The $1 billion plan to close the gap between growing and shrinking Pa. school districts.

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“Every year, the legislature puts a little more money in the education budget, pats themselves on the back for passing a budget with no tax hike, goes home for the summer and comes back next year to find the problem is even worse.”

– Susan Spicka, Executive Director of Education Voters of PA, during a PA Schools Work webinar on the commonwealth’s education funding failures