Forestdale’s Culture For One initiative partners with For One in New York, a small grass-roots charity, to bring youth in care to cultural events in Manhattan. Launched in December 2010, to date the program has taken children on 11 multi-cultural excursions.
The latest trip offered an opportunity to see the Blue Man Group, a theatrical performance involving music, comedy and multi-media. The program received 75 tickets to distribute to Forestdale’s families.
“Our community’s children in foster care are so often overlooked and have exceptionally challenging lives,” said Linn Tanzman, Director of For One in New York. “I have learned that exposing the children to broader possibilities through culture offers priceless sources of inspiration and motivation.”
The cultural excursions range from kid-friendly to more sophisticated. For younger children, the program’s excursions have included “The Gazillion Bubble Show” and a visit to Lincoln Center for a special family performance by New York City Opera. The youth attended a performance of “Where the Wild Things Are,” an opera based on the children’s book by Maurice Sendak. Older children have gone to see shows including Tony Award winner “Memphis,” and the spectacular “Spiderman – Turn of the Dark.”
Recently, a small group spent an afternoon at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. They toured the world-renown facility, took a private dance class and observed professionals in rehearsal.
Forestdale’s Executive Director, Anstiss Agnew, feels the Culture for One Program is critical to the future development and long-term growth of the youth in foster care. “Exposure to culture is one of the keys that assure a strong, successful transition to adulthood,” said Agnew.
Spending time with the youth is also an important aspect of the excursions. Tanzman said attending the outings offers her, and other For One In New York volunteers, an opportunity to get to know the children individually. This includes beginning a dialogue about their interests and future ambitions.
The Culture For One program provides the children with glimpses into different lifestyles as well as careers. Tanzman and the youth talk before the shows, during intermission and after the show.
“Teens and I often discuss the range of professions that support a production, such as accountants, caterers, choreographers, box office workers, lawyers, and stage hands, not to mention the dancers, actors and musicians,” said Tanzman. She encourages the children to ask questions and addresses their curiosity.
If you would like to contribute or learn more about the Culture for One program please contact Forestdale’s Development Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-263-0740.