The Art of Confidence


                 FOCUS, RISE, EDUCATE, EMPOWER!

AOC f.R.E.E Outreach Project

              AOC in ACTION! 

The AOC community members spend their time volunteering around the world supporting various organizations to further our mission of RISING, as a community to make an ARTISTIC impact on the world! 

Mrs. LA supporting Necessary Arts Outreach Project in Kenya!

Mrs. Summer

Reflecting on education from Egypt! 

Necessary Arts Outreach

Global Education

By: Summer Blackmon

                                 5,4,3,2,1 ACTION !

                     By : Mrs. LA

“Looking into your eyes, I can see life, from my eyes to yours I can feel it.”

What an amazing day, what an amazing journey. Working with the kids at JEHO was an experience I will always remember. From the moment we walked in we were greeted with love, warm embraces and big smiles. What was most interesting to me, is that I am a stranger, in a strange place, surrounded by children I don’t know. Who are very welcoming in a calm and mature manner. These children had never seen me before, they didn't even know my name, but to them, my purpose, the Necessary Arts visit was a meaningful opportunity, that was well worth the wait.

As the students lined up chairs and sat closely to one another, they waited patiently for the leaders of NA to tell them the next steps. We worked together as a whole group introducing ourselves as facilitators and then the students asked could they introduce themselves. This was a significant moment for them. It was very important, that every child had a name that went with their beautiful face and radiant spirit. It was important that they got the opportunity to introduce themselves to say their name, who they were, something special about themselves. It was important that each child from 2 years of to 17 years old, had a place. This environment, was definitely an environment of love, where no one was forgotten and from the youngest to the oldest, each person had value. I felt at home immediately, and definitely welcomed. It was now my turn to impart the feelings that these wonderful and warm spirits had imparted to me, back to them. The concept of sowing and reaping. It was my turn to sow seeds that would empower these 40 young people through the arts to express themselves and allow their minds to be stimulated for mature growth, but most of all develop a confidence to believe and achieve whatever their pure hearts desired.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ACTION! As we transitioned into our acting class, I was amazed at the amount of confidence that the young performers had. Their confidence was radiant and each participants brought LIFE to each session. We began with a warm up, ZIP, ZAP, ZOP! The kids loved this warm up and within minutes took over the game and began to lead as experts. We then worked together in a small group to discuss emotions and how we can demonstrate our emotions without words. I performed a few scenarios for participants and they guessed what emotion my character was portraying. Again, the students were eager, they were soon leading and demonstrating their own scenarios.We soon began working on scripts. At first the participants were timid and weren't confident in reading the script aloud. So I decided to take it slow and read each line, act it out, and then allow each group to follow my lead. Soon after, the participants were leading the group and didn't need my help. By the end of the session they had memorized the script and were ready to present in front an audience.

What is amazing about these kids is not who they are or the circumstances that they are experiencing, but what is inside of them. I love the fact that they had so much life inside of them and they were not afraid to give this life, this bright light inside of them to others. Necessary Arts provided a platform, that they loved, for them to be able to express themselves, to communicate, to say their name, to have another place in the world, where they had value and meaning, through artistic expression.

Reaching the unreachable. We would never be able to reach these kids within the confines of our own community. The gift of being able to travel to meet them where they are is priceless. A lot times, humble servants come to be a gift to others, but it is always the most amazing experience, when you have actually received a gift. These bright eyed, pleasant, beautiful faces, gave the gift of life from their eyes to mine, in JEHO. I do believe today we were able to reach our goals and we were rewarded for it, by watching their confidence run across the stage as they presented the life inside of them to others.

“Black, Alone, and a Girl”

By: Le’Jon A. Payne

We walked in eager to work with a group of bright eyed refugee children today at Sud Academy. Upon our arrival Principal George greeted us at the gate,with a warm smile. He then escorted us to the “principal’s office” where we would each sit down to discuss the program and officially sign in. I admired his professionalism and although the school had no electricity and the bare minimum for a facility he still operated and treated the facility with the utmost

respect and dignity. This was beautiful sight to see.

The students were waiting in the backyard for our session to begin. You could tell they had no clue what to expect or what was going to happen next. We began our opening activities and the students were eager to participate. Immediately they got involved and began the drama activities. We then began to focus on our objective of the day. Students were asked to choose a pivotal moment in their life and write a monologue. We broke up into 3 small groups. Immediately I fell in love with the 3 students in my group, a 14 year old Kenyan male, a 20 year old Kenyan female, and a 17 year old Sudanese female.

The 17 year old Sudanese female, Manyi, left a major dent in my heart. She was very beautiful, her skin was very dark and she spoke the least amount of English. I had no clue that our conversation about skin, gender, and loneliness, would produce a new pivotal moment in my life. Manyi appeared to have some discomforts while working in the group. She kept apologizing for her English. It seemed that she was possibly worried that I was going to judge her. I assured the group that whatever they had to bring to the table in English or their mother tongue was valuable. I began to share a pivotal moment in my life with the group. I explained how it felt and what it was like for me tell my family that I was going to leave home and move across the world. Although it was exciting to me it wasn't that exciting to those who were close to me. Manyi almost immediately could relate, she began to open up about making the decision to leave her home in Sudan because of war and because she wanted an education. She explained how she made the decision at a young age to leave her mother and come to Kenya. She had a pivotal moment was when her uncle came and took her brothers to get enrolled in school. Heartbreak was all over her face when she said, “but he didn't take me, because I’m a girl.” The hole in her heart was evident. She explained that she wanted to get an education and she was hurt because she was being denied the opportunity because of her gender.  

This was a breathtaking, life changing, experience, for me as I looked into her eyes. Before me sat a beautiful black young lady who left her family in Sudan, to come Kenya, who was alone, by choice because she valued education more than staying back in Sudan “just to get married.” She didn't want marriage to be her top priority, she valued an education more. She was hurt and distraught that her uncle helped and supported her brothers but did not support her. She stated, “In 2015 I made up my mind to do something, to go to school, it hurt me because I had no one to encourage me and no one to support me, and I am alone, but at least I am happy.” Happy? How did she find happiness in her frustration? This is the beauty of meeting Manyi and helping her develop her voice through Necessary Arts, so that she is able to tell a powerful story and encourage others. How remarkable, this young woman is, who is on an extraordinary life journey, in the midst of war, choosing to live alone in pursuit of an education. She takes my breath away.

We worked together to complete her monologue “Girls Need an Education Too”  I was very proud of her and her courage. I began to share with her other speeches and poems by women who valued women's rights. I began to act out monologues for her and coach her with her own monologue. At the end she was able to present her monologue. I was so excited for and this major accomplishment.  I asked her if we could take a picture together. She smiled and said yes. We both had bright smiles and took the picture. She then looked at the picture and it was almost as if she was apologizing when she said to me, “I'm so black.” Another dent went into my heart.  I looked her directly into her eyes, “Yes you are and you are beautiful,” and I smiled. She began to blush and thank me repeatedly.

There are so many young girls like Manyi who feel alone, unattractive, and who want more out of life then what society has determined they should have. It is my sincere desire that all the Manyis in the world would know that they are beautiful, intelligent, black young ladies, who deserve an education. I am very proud of Manyi and inspired by her courage. Manyi’s testimony, strength, and monologue have given me life and caused me to be committed to helping young girls around the world identify and develop their unique voice.  

Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” 

As educators we have to think of education in global terms. Education serves to eradicate ignorance and bigotry by leveraging the playing field and by bringing together people of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. 

Our youth need to know that their work has meaning. By making connections with the world outside the classroom through education and artistic expression, students become engaged, recognizing that education is significant and valuable. There is a need for learning on global awareness; on helping learners to recognize their responsibilities in the global framework; and on opening up access while ensuring that people have access to quality education. Quality education to me means that education has to embrace the whole person and the whole society. Thus the concept of education now includes the idea of lifelong education. We as Educators have a responsibility in preparing learners for life beyond school. Travel takes students outside of their environments and into the metaphoric classroom of life. Students are able to create authentic connections with others that are like them in their travels abroad.

Our youth must understand that education is the gateway to freedom! Freedom affords our youth with opportunities to impart social change, travel the world, and to positively affect their community!

Mrs. Dasher in creativity mode! 

"More Creativity Please!" 
By: Shanequa Dasher

“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think”.  - Albert Einstein

Every adult, child and human being yearns for the feeling of freedom. Free to dream, free to imagine, free to think, free to create, free to be themselves. More importantly, every child has a dream. Even if they don't know exactly what that dream is, they are constantly embarking upon new experiences that allow them to experiment creatively to discover exactly what it is. But in order for this discovery to occur, they need to be introduced to the opportunities of creative freedom.

Creativity is the freest form of self-expression. The exercise of creativity is the very act that improves the cognitive skills and problem solving used in mathematics and science.  It allows us to freely express ourselves, provides a sense of independence, confidence, and nurtures emotional health.

Providing rich experiences that allow opportunity for creativity is vital in both the home and school environment. It is my personal mission to provide rich experiences that highlight creativity with purpose for the youth in both my local and global community. My company, Dasher Creations is currently spearheading an initiative that does this very thing. We have committed providing complimentary creativity workshops with hospitalized children, allowing them the opportunity to dream, create, and be inspired. These workshops include tutu and bow tie making, as well as vision board creation. Providing these creativity rich experiences, lays the ground for improved self-confidence, while providing the opportunity to create something special, new, and outside of the mundane routine of residing in a hospital for a life-threatening circumstance. In addition to the opportunity to create something unique and beautiful through the help of a professional designer, these young creators will walk away with a beautiful product that when worn, will undoubtedly create an instant smile and boost of confidence. Every woman and girl loves the feeling of twirling in a fluffy, fabulous tutu, while every boy loves to feel like a young dapper man dressed to impressed in a cool bowtie with his favorite cartoon character embellished on it.

When performing as a creative, there is no right or wrong. Inhibitions are out of the door, and the creator is free to be and act as they desire. Being creative expands life experiences and broadens one’s schema to go beyond their own environment of thought into a new world of possibilities. Creativity is one of life’s greatest resources. Maya Angelou so eloquently helped us realize that we must nurture this resource. She asserted, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use it, the more you have.” Without creativity being nurtured in our children, we could stunt the possibilities of our next inventors, curers of disease, or solvers of global problems.

Henri Mattise characterized creative individuals by saying, “Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure, and love of play. I’m not sure about you, but I see great promise and purpose in fostering these character traits in comparison to their direct opposites.