For any young person today, simple every day life in school can be emotionally draining. There are pressures from family to do well in school and get good grades. There are pressures from peers to fit in. There are pressures from strangers who may bully or demean students in a trend that seems to be growing daily. Finding the space to focus on learning can feel like an unattainable chore.
|Rodney Grant helped establish PCW|
For young residents in the community known locally in Barbados as 'The Pines', life, itself, can be a challenge. Add to the above, living in poverty, not getting enough to eat, watching mom and dad struggle to find good jobs and you might find a student who has given up before they've even tried.
Pinelands Creative Workshop (PCW) is a community organization working to overcome these challenges and improve the lives of students in their neighborhood. PCW was created to ease that burden decades ago and continues to thrive today after constantly growing and reinventing themselves to keep up with the changing stresses and challenges on the students within their community.
Through the sales of our donated bikes, PCW is able to run a full service bike shop, employ mechanics, and raise funds to help support projects within their program which focus on using art education to improve lives. While Pinelands Creative Workshop may seem like nothing more than a cool place to hang out with friends after school, what this organization provides to its young participants goes much deeper than that. And goes far beyond a bike simply providing transportation.
To 8 year old Danisha, all she knows is she likes dancing at PCW after school and hanging out with her friends. But deep down even she knows it's more than that. Through dance, she told Outreach Coordinator Yvette Hess, "I learned how to be myself." At eight.
What we see PCW providing is a working classroom: Expression. Collaboration. Focus. Confidence. Accountability. Responsibility. Those same art based after school extra curricular activities that Danisha loves so much are critical to childhood development and will continue to serve her, and her community, well throughout life.
Doing that through the arts is genius, especially in a tourist-centric nation that relies on the performing arts as a way of life. The arts also strengthen problem solving and critical thinking. Students learn to make choices and understand the value of their participation in the overall productions. They learn about sharing responsibility and how perseverance can pay off. They take pride in the end result after putting in the hard work it took to get there. They are developing a routine for success.
Art introduces the idea of peaceful resolution to the classroom, dance hall, stage, or recital room. Most of all art brings inclusion into a closed circle. It opens, embraces, and beats like a drum or a heart. Art lays the foundation for understanding, acceptance, and compassion. Just like the bike, art brings people together and transports them to a better place.