Uspiritus Helps Youth Explore Arts and Sciences
Soaking in new experiences does wonders to boost a child’s curiosity and courage.
For the children and teens of Uspiritus, a Louisville, Kentucky-based CHHSM member organization that serves and houses abused and neglected youth, that exhilaration was widespread this summer thanks to UpstartU, a dynamic new arts and sciences camp.
“These kids have been through so much,” says Andy Driscoll, director of Uspiritus’ private residential treatment program, which provides a structured treatment setting for youth in transition to return to their homes. “So to have this very positive opportunity to be a kid and learn new skills and just have fun — it was incredible to see.”
“You could just really see their confidence shining through,” says Kristin Monks, director of Uspiritus’ private child care program, which treats youth who have been removed from their homes.
Local Louisville real estate developer David Fenley contacted Uspiritus with the idea to host the first UpstartU on the Uspiritus campus. The technology-based arts and sciences camp delivered daily programming for about 160 kids from ages six to 18. Sessions were led by emerging leaders in areas of science including artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printers and stem cell research, as well as celebrated artists from hip-hop dance to classical music.
Uspiritus’ enthusiastic support and collaborative funding efforts of the Community Foundation of Louisville and individual donors realized Fenley’s camp. He wrote on UpstartU.org about his hopes for children who participated: “My goal is to give them awareness, hope, aspiration and the tools to self-teach themselves and have constructive choices and therapy.”
By all accounts, his hopes were realized. Uspiritus leaders said that the 10-week camp was packed with big ideas, and the smiles — and victories — poured in.
Monks said the participants especially enjoyed the stop-motion film sessions that kicked off the camp.
“A lot of them talked about how neat it was and how exciting it was,” she says. “They did makeup and got to see how all of the lighting works, and they got to make their own little click-movie scene with other kids that they live with. It was good to see just how proud of themselves they were.”
John, 14, enjoyed learning about drones during sessions led by Dr. Adrian Lauf, a computer engineering professor from the University of Louisville.
“I can’t wait until I can buy my own drone,” John says.
Whatever the topic, the classes got the teens thinking, talking and expressing themselves. Andrew, 13, says he discovered that music was a novel way to express his feelings, even after, at first, having doubts about playing in a “Landfill Orchestra Symphony.” The participants made musical instruments out of recycled materials under the guidance of Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams.
Mary, 15, says she found computer coding so interesting that she now views it as a possible career.
The feedback follows what Driscoll says is the big picture of the camp: Exposure to positive outlets and opportunities can be life-changing for underserved youth.
“A lot of them are finding big passions toward things they didn’t previously want or even know existed,” he says. “Without this, they probably wouldn’t have had that hands-on opportunity to discover something they love. That’s invaluable for our kids.”
Join Our Mailing LIst