Our youth are the future. In an increasingly complex world, it is more important than ever that we arm children and adolescents with the tools they need to succeed through a well-rounded education—one that includes arts education. Throughout the last several decades, fewer and fewer students have received substantial education in the arts. However, studies show that arts education and artistic expression can have an incredible impact on a child’s academic, social and emotional development. Jacksonville Arts & Music School (JAMS) was created to fill this gap right here in Jacksonville.
Within the classroom, students who regularly engage in arts activities in the span of a year are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement than students who do not, according to a report by Americans for the Arts. Another study, conducted by Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, shows that arts education positively and significantly impacts elementary school students’ school engagement and college aspirations.
The skills developed through artistic expression extend far beyond the four walls of an elementary or high school. Arts education by nature encourages children to approach a situation from several points of view, leading students to increased levels of empathy and social tolerance. It also strengthens their sense of ownership, sense of purpose and problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, according to Americans for the Arts. These qualities are pivotal to promoting success throughout a child’s life. These skills, coupled with the social-emotional benefits of arts education, empower the leaders of tomorrow.
And that is exactly what we are aiming to do at JAMS. We are a creative youth development organization that provides arts education and leadership development to children in Jacksonville’s underserved communities. JAMS is a safe haven for creativity, a place where students in grades three through 10 can come after school to study, create and develop positive social relationships. We work to establish trust, cultivate creativity and develop leaders through our four JAMS focus areas: music, dance, visual arts and film. We also expose students to taekwondo and robotics through our clubs.
With more than 4,270 hours spent on arts education and leadership development per year, we encourage our students to embrace creativity as a way of life. Our instructors set high expectations for growth and learning, encouraging students to tackle every class, lesson and assignment with passion. We are amazed daily by our students, their creations and their achievements.
Since we opened our doors in 2015, we’ve developed roots in the Jacksonville community and partnerships that have helped us continue to grow each year. One of our newest partners is the Cowford Chophouse. At the end of last year, Cowford announced JAMS as the beneficiary of its fourth annual MOO-VE IT 5K, which takes place Saturday, Feb. 22. The 5K and one-mile fun run is held in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville, starting and ending in front of the Cowford Chophouse and taking runners along the Northbank Riverwalk. All proceeds from the race will be used to expand our arts education programming.
Promoting arts education and leadership development is critical to providing our children with an accessible path to success, and getting involved with JAMS through MOO-VE IT is a fun and family-friendly way to help. Runners can register online at CowfordChophouse.com/MOO-VE-IT-5K. The cost of your ticket directly supports the arts education available on our campus.
Embracing creativity and arts education today gives children the skills they will need tomorrow. At JAMS, we are committed to inspiring and empowering Jacksonville’s youth to explore the world of creative thinking—not just for their future, but everyone’s.
Peoples is executive director of Jacksonville Arts & Music School (JAMS).