2017 Multicultural Arts Camp (MAC) just completed its 21st year. This year Free Arts served over 150 children over two weeks. Participating children learned Tibetan Arts, Latin Arts, World Music, Spoken Word, and Swing Dance. Each day children were welcomed by 20 adult mentors who provided a safe, healing environment where the children could freely express themselves. One of the major tenants of MAC is bravery, which children are asked to exhibit again and again at camp as they try new things, meet new people, and conquer their fears. At a public showcase on the final Friday of camp Adam, a brave 10-year-old began to read his poem about his mother’s mental illness. Halfway through he paused, trying to make the rest of the words come out. Quietly the rest of his group began to snap, then the audience joined in, a chorus of subtle support as this young man tried to dig deep and find the courage and composure to go on. Finally, he stepped away from the mic, unable to continue. Minutes later, after the rest of his group had shared their poetry, Adam stepped back up to the mic commenting, “I’m sorry I had to let some tears shed.” He then read the remaining lines of his poem in a clear strong voice and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Free Arts would like to thank the following corporate partners for their volunteer help in cultivating bravery in children like Adam: Bank of America, American Family Insurance, American Express, Express Scripts, GoDaddy.com, UMB Bank, and Wells Fargo Bank. Together, with 23 Free Arts volunteers, these corporate partners dedicated 2977 hours over the two weeks.