Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jillian C. named Kids Creative's 2011 Urban Hero

Congratulations to Jillian C. for being named
Kids Creative's 2011 Urban Hero with the Catalog for Giving.

What being an urban hero means to me?

by Jillian C.

My definition of an Urban Hero is someone who, no matter what, always does the best they can. They never let anyone get in their way. He/She works hard in school and is always helpful with other students and teachers. He/She cares for their parents and brothers and sisters, always trying to make them proud.

I am happy to be chosen as an Urban Hero by Kids Creative, because to me they are good people. Kids Creative shows kids like me that anything is possible and that it doesn't matter if your parents are together, where you live, or how much money your family has. The teachers at Kids Creative show me that hard work will get me to that middle school or high school or even a college scholarship to any college I want.

I am proud to be chosen by Kids Creative because now people can see everything I've done so far and know that they can do it too!


Jillian was born in New York City in May of 2000. She is now 11 years old and very much older than her years. She is the third of five children born to Omilania Buckine & Jose Crespo. She lives with her mother and siblings in New York City Housing. Although her parents are not together she has a great relationship with both. She attended PS 191 elementary school.

Since Kindergarten she has attended the Kids Creative Afterschool Program, along with her four siblings. She had such a great experience while in the program. She got over her shyness and began to utilize the social skills she learned from the interaction with the students and staff members in her everyday life. She began to use her imagination in her writing and use different vocal expressions when reading aloud. At the end of her 3rd Grade year she began to attend the summer program and realized that she has a nice singing voice and a passion for dramatic acting. Now that she has graduated from PS 191 she will be attending 6th grade at Mott Hall II, Middle School.

She loves to volunteer her time reading to small children, usually her younger sister and friends during play dates. At Kids Creative, she has chosen on many occasions to help with the younger campers during their creative time reading and singing. She has shown a desire to teach, to share what she has learned with other children whether it be homework help or reading to them in order to help the adults around her get other things done. She is very helpful in all areas of her daily life, constantly assessing the needs of those around her and how best to help.

Jillian would like to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and go to Columbia University's Teachers College. She wants to teach literacy to those who have trouble reading. She has seen how embarrassed children get when reading allowed in class or how hard a time they have when taking exams and she wants to be someone who helps to change how many kids live with this issue.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Final Performances June, 2011

Spring 2011 Kids Creative After School

End of Semester Performances

9 Original Musicals and Videos!!!

5 Schools!!!

Over 150 kids!!!

Tons of awesome!!!

Each semester, Kids Creative's amazing kids create original pieces to perform for friends and family. Here are performance times and story synopses. Congratulations to the groups that have already performed and good luck to the kids who are going to perform this month.

"The Tale of the Beautiful Fairies and the Beautiful Sorcerer"

Rock N Roll Theater @ Ethical Culture, Thursday May 26

In our story, an evil sorcerer plans to steal money from magical fairies by taking it from their good friend Mrs. Murdow. Mrs. Murdow calls the fairies to help her, and eventually there is a confrontation between one of the fairies and the sorcerer. The two cast spells on each other at the exact same time, resulting in the fairy turning into a sorcerer and the sorcerer turning into a fairy!

Taja played a fairy named Stormy, as well as the Evil Sorcerer.

Juliet is played a fairy named Diamond, as well as Mrs. Murdow, the fairies' friend.


Rock N Roll Theater @ The Heschel School, Friday June 3

When an international spy, an international rock star, an international hebrew-language rap sensation, an international know it all, and an international selection of special travelers board an international flight with a poorly adjusted intergalactic portal button, it's anybody's guess where they'll end up, and only their guess as to how they will ever return.


Create-A-Tale @ The Heschel School, Wednesday June 15

Iridesca, who keeps watch from her tree nook, discovers that the Angels of Darkness want to steal power from the Unicorn so that they can fly faster and stronger. She flies through the forest to find and protect the unicorn. She doesn’t hear that the Angels are also searching for the potion machine to stop Iridesca from protecting the Unicorn.

Then there are the Wizards. The frog wizards have been cursed to live in a tiny hut. They don’t have enough room for equipment so they steal it from the germ wizards. The germ wizards have had it with the frog wizards taking their stuff, so they place bumping spells on the frog wizards so they can’t see well and keep bumping into things. Each team of wizards goes on a search for the potion machine to make a potion to stop the other team.

The super hero is stuck in the middle. He is everybody’s friend. Let’s hope that he can find a way to get everyone to stop their fighting before it’s too late, and they all place irreversible spells on each other for the rest of their lives.


LaRonda’s Rock Stars @ PS 102, Wednesday June 15

The Evil Queens want to control the whole jungle and send out their zombies to eat a thousand brains, because when there are no living things left they will rule the jungle! The jungle is protected by the ninja monkeys who stop the zombies by throwing exploding bananas. On the other side of the jungle lives the dark princesses who want revenge as the evil queens turned their parents into zombies. The dark princesses use a spell to bring some rockstars to the jungle. The singing will destroy the zombies. What will happen when the Rockstars, Ninja Monkeys and Zombies collide? Will the dark princesses be reunited with their parents? Will the Evil Queens be stopped? Come see on June 13th to find out!


Little Monkey Rockets @ PS 102, Wednesday June 15

A group of kids is so excited to go to the "Amaaazing Amuuusement Paaaark!" but when they get there all the rides are broken. The Wizards who keep an eye on the park come to investigate what happened, they interview the kids and discover an alligator is on the loose! They come up with a plan to catch the alligator, they make it rain candy! But all of a sudden the rain turns the kids into animals and brings the rides to life. They all eat the candy till there is just one piece left and they have a dance battle to see who will get it. What will the Wizards do now? What will happen to the kids and the park? What happened to the alligator? Come find out on June 13th!


Rock N Roll Theater @ PS 11, Monday, June 20th and Tuesday, June 21st – Parent Share Day


CAP’S ROCK N ROLL @ PS 87 Wednesday, June 22, 4:00pm

When the evil witch thinks her daughters were taken she covers the sky with Blue Jello to punish the offenders. It's up to the sewer mice to eat through the jello and show her the error of her ways, and save the day!!!


Create-A-Play @ PS 87, Thursday, June 23 @ 4:00pm

Catapult hamster gets lost in a video game of old Create - A - Play stories and her superhero friends need to rescue her from certain Craziness!


Rainbow Stages @ PS 87, Friday, June 24 @ 4:15pm

Lola is lonely. She has no friends because she is so mean no one wants to befriend her. When she falls asleep and starts to dream she suddenly is filled with friends! That is until a giant comes and eats them up! Lola teams with the superheroes to get the giant to sneeze out her friends. When she wakes up, she realizes that she needs to change her ways to have friends.

Peace Education in Action: Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams

Kids Creative's Peace Education in Action highlight for June, 2011 is Board Member and Doctoral Candidate Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams, a true practitioner of peace education. We asked him to discuss the incredible work he is doing in the field of peace education in New York City as well as his birthplace of Trinidad and Tobago. Please read on:

I grew up in one of the poorest and most violent parts of Trinidad & Tobago (TT); I was fortunate to have had a family that believed steadfastly in the potency of education. I do not however view education as a neutral sphere, but one that is politically charged, and has the potential to either socially reproduce inequities or to empower learners. Driven by the oft-cited Gandhian mantra “that we must be the change that we wish to see in the world”, I view my research as advocacy for students who have been forgotten by society, for students who attend stigmatized and under-resourced schools, and for students who are incessantly pathologized by the media and society at large. My overall research aim is dual-purposed: to flay the increasingly thick cover of de-historicized structural violence that suffocates many schools within postcolonial educational systems, and to eventually reframe the narrative of pathologized, violent youth to one of resiliency.

From late November, 2009 to June 2010, I spent 7 months at a secondary school in Trinidad & Tobago collecting data on school violence. My research centers on differentiated conceptualizations of school violence, its causes and interventions. I interviewed students (focus groups), teachers, deans, safety officers, the principal, vice principal and guidance counselor and a few national officials. The case study was based at a school that has been categorized by the Ministry of Education as a ‘high risk’ school. Many of the students hail from single parent homes and poor, violence-stricken communities. As a native of TT, I believe in utilitarian research; since school violence is a major issue on the twin island republic, I perceive my research both as a way of ‘giving back’ to my country, and as peace activism.

As regards my current research project, I am still analyzing mounds of data, with the intent to defend my dissertation by May of 2012. Research and practice ought not to be divorced, thus my insistence on keeping my feet straddling both of these worlds, for I firmly believe that research and practice should reflect a mutually symbiotic relationship. Working with Kids Creative is sufficient inspiration for me that peace education work is not only requisite in this very violent world but that it can be very capably implemented under the right conditions and visionary leadership.

About Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams

Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams is a current member of the Board of Directors of Kids Creative. He is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, studying International Educational Development, with a focus in peace education. He obtained his Bachelor’s with honors in Psychology from St. Francis College, and two master’s degrees in International Educational Development, focusing on peace education and in Comparative and International Education, focusing on philosophy of education.

He started working in after school programs at the YMCA, and has worked on several research projects. At present, he is the research coordinator at the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation Conflict and Complexity (AC4) at the Earth Institute, Columbia University. AC4 is in its second year and aims to be a hub at Columbia that fosters interdisciplinary research and practice around conflict resolution, violence prevention, sustainable development and peacebuilding. Hakim oversees AC4’s student and faculty research grant programs.

To find out more about Hakim's work in Trinidad and Tobago or with AC4 in New York City, feel free to contact him: hakimwill@gmail.com.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kids Creative at PS 102: The I AM Project

Peace Education in Action

The I AM Project at PS 102

by Kellen Atkinson,

Kids Creative Site Director at PS 102

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others,”

Author unknown

We all remember it--that time during our adolescence when the self-doubt began, when suddenly, almost out of thin air, the opinions of our peers began to shape how we saw ourselves. At PS 102 I have seen the very early stages of exclusionary behavior among groups of friends and how these behaviors deeply affect a student’s sense of value and self-worth. Kids Creative is dedicated to building safe spaces in which the difficult realities of adolescence can be softened by a collective culture of peace. At PS 102 we are working towards building that space and we envision an after school experience defined by acceptance, kindness and peace.

The I AM Project encourages students to know themselves, to appreciate their own unique qualities and contributions to our program. The first phase of the project involves a life size drawing, a design component and a poetry workshop that encourages self- exploration. Students are challenged to think about their hopes, dreams, fears and proudest moments and then put those thoughts down on paper in the written word. The second phase of the project will involve the sharing of the work produced and counselors will facilitate dialogue around similarities and shared ideas. The goal is to build a space in which the ideas and characteristics of each individual child are appreciated and valued, not only by the counselors and teachers, but by each student as well. It is through a better understanding of ourselves that we can begin to find commonalties in people and places where we never expected. Dialogue around commonalities can diffuse conflict among peer groups and build bridges to a more peaceful program environment!

These works will be on display at an upcoming Kids Creative fundraising event for the PS 102 program, wherein students can stand tall and proud next to their work and feel confident in their own unique “I am…”

-Kellen Atkinson

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dear Kids Creative: Ellen Sachs

This letter was sent by Kids Creative alum Ellen Sachs when we asked her to reflect on her time working with us. Ellie participated in Create-A-Play as a child, became a counselor and an assistant teacher with Kids Creative Summer Camp and now attends the University of Michigan in their highly competitive Theatre Directing program. Here's what she has to say:

Dear Kids Creative,

As you know, I worked at Kids Creative during my last two summers of High School, first as an intern then as an assistant teacher. The gratitude and sense of accomplishment I feel when reflecting on my last two summers in nearly inexpressible, as I feel I’ve grown a lot. I came to Kids Creative as a 17 year old interested in theater, child development, and fostering a great environment for a city summer arts camp. But I came unsure of myself—Would I fit in well with a team of other counselors, assistant teachers, and a head teacher? Would I be able to lead and inspire a group of incredibly diverse and amazingly creative kids? What about conflict resolution with the kids? Upon the completion of my second summer with kids creative, I can honestly say I left a different person. Instead of being nervous when I saw a huge challenge (like organizing 15 kids for a subway ride, or helping a child with stage fright overcome their fear, or a spat between two friends) I would get excited and find a creative way to figure it out. I left Kids Creative feeling a huge sense of accomplishment in the fact that I had helped a group of kids realize their artistic vision and implement it. I felt confident in myself as a leader. I felt confident in myself as a person because I knew that by the end of my two summers at Kids Creative my peers and campers respected me.

While Kids Creative gave me a huge foundation for where I am now, and a sense of personal pride, Kids Creative also helped me tremendously with college. For one, over my two summers I spoke Spanish so much that when I arrived on University of Michigan’s campus for orientation and was told to take a language placement test, I placed out of the theatre school’s requirement and the over all university’s requirement. Thanks to Kids Creative, I have an extra 8 credits on my transcript just from speaking with students and parents in Spanish. I’m a directing for theatre major at University of Michigan, and at the beginning of the year in a forum I had to share with my class my last directing experience. Jaws dropped as a I told a story about 20 kids from all over Manhattan writing their own play that featured mermaids, police men, and super heroes that united on a quest for truth and goodness. I explained how the campers often seemed as diverse as their characters, and how beautiful it was to me that the campers were able to find the subtext in the play, and perhaps their own lives, in that there is always power in truth and good always trumps evil. Also, when applying to college one of my essays was about kids creative and when asked about it in interviews, colleges always seemed very impressed by the company and my accomplishments. Due to Kids Creative- I’m more organized, focused, a better director, more compassionate, and more invested in the arts. I’m not exactly sure what the future holds, but I know I will definitely continue to study theater. I’m also planning on double majoring in Sociology and I feel much of my interest in the subject came from my summers at Kids Creative and my interactions with diverse families, staff and campers. And glowing at the top of my resume, under Work Experience reads this:

-Kids Creative,2009, 2010 Initially worked as an Intern and was ultimately promoted to Assistant Teacher at an NYC arts camp for children. Gained leadership skills through maintaining a peaceful culture in a diverse classroom while teaching, art, theatre, and creative writing classes. Matured artistically by directing student’s final performance in ’10. Improved interpersonal skills by navigating socio-economic and cultural differences with families and refined Spanish-speaking skills to a conversational level. Learned to problem solve creatively and quickly. (NYC)”

To really understand that little blurb on my resume, or some of the points I’ve mentioned in this letter, I’d have to talk for hours. I’d go on, and on, and on, about all of the amazing experiences I’ve had with Kids Creative, because they have truly shaped me into the person I am today – and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

All the best,


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dear Kids Creative: Ebban Maeda

We received this letter from Kids Creative alum Ebban Maeda when we asked him to reflect on his time in camp. He speaks about his time as a camper when he first met Stephen Jacobs, all the way through working with us for the past two summers. Ebban now attends LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in Theater. Here's what Ebban has to say:

January 26, 2011

Dear Kids Creative,

I have been involved in Kids Creative since I was in Kindergarten. Being the shy student that I was, I was not open to new experiences nor after school clubs until I met Stephen Jacobs, who slowly became my first idol. I recall the first day of the after school program was close to Easter, and I had an Easter egg. It broke, and upset and crying, I asked Stephen if I could have another one, and dropping everything he made sure I got it. As Kids Creative evolved, I did too. When they started the Summer Camp, I remember being extremely excited to attend.

I would not have called myself an actor, but dressing up and pretending to be someone else is exactly what a child wants, at least what I wanted. A large element from the camp that continues to be an important part of my life is music. The music that is written either by Stephen and Adam, or even the children to some extent, is fun and enjoyable. Besides the fact that the camp is based around the idea of peace, love and art, it was still a very fun camp. We went to the park, the sprinklers (or urban swimming), a few museums and every now and then the Dirty Socks Funtime Band’s Show, which I recall being quite “awesome”. The acting aspect didn’t truly dawn on me until Mr. Clown and the Day the Sun got Wet. It was my first experience singing solo on a stage, and my first experience having a lead role. What is truly amazing is that everyone in the production was happy. Unlike actual acting groups, everyone got a role they were happy with. If one didn’t want to be a lead and have many lines, they didn’t have to be, while if one did, they would have all the lines they wanted. Now of course, we were just children, but the fact that there was either little to no argument at all made the camp a very safe place, at least for me. I also recall liking camp more than school at some points, and wished that Stephen and Adam were involved in my actual academic classes, that would have been awesome. So because of this I was always looking forward to come back and creating a new character. What is amazing to me is one of the great skills I have taken from the camp was projection. Everyone had to be loud to be heard, and everything was projected from my voice, even though that still wasn’t that loud. The games that were played in camp are some that I still play. Fun, little and educational games that have led to be known as improv games. Finally my camper life was coming to an end, but little did I know I’d be back!

In middle school, I learned that I was not a huge fan of little kids. Being the 12 year old I was, I guess I was hypocritical, and I never got along with little children, unlike the rest of my friends. In 7th grade my school, Clinton School for Writers and Artists was putting on a production of Into the Woods. This was the first musical that I was in where I did not write the character myself. I wasn’t going to audition, but remembering how much fun Kids Creative was, I did and got the smallest role. In all of middle school, this was where Kids Creative truly helped me. No one had ever been really upset by a role in camp, so why should I be? Instead I went with it and had more fun than the leading role. The next year I auditioned for Little Shop of Horrors and got the role of Audrey II, putting the official stamp on my acting life. I was auditioning for high schools, and my first choice was LaGuardia High school for Music, Arts, and Performing Arts. It was a dream to get in for Drama, which I had decided would lead my high school search. After much practice I auditioned, and got into the LaGuardia for Drama. It was the best day of my middle school life, as well as a feeling I will never forget. One day I heard from my parents that Adam and Stephen were honoring me on my acceptance into LaGuardia, and the event was such an amazing night of laughter and fun. After my first year in drama I received word from my mother that Kids Creative was wondering if I would want to be a counselor in training. I felt as if I had to repay them for everything they had given me when I was younger, and seeing Adam and Stephen again seemed like a miracle, so I took up the opportunity and found myself in a room with a few other people listening to Adam and Stephen talk about the camp. I was suddenly back in Kindergarten, I knew almost no one around, but again in a matter of a mere five minutes I felt at home. All the other counselors were very nice and seemed like great people. It was amazing to see what was talked about that I never realized, as I was younger. However, I was still worried that my unfit relations with small children would lead me to be fired. On the first day of the job, I met all of my campers and worked with Tejon Witter, and Alexis Schuster, who I would soon become very close with. Surprisingly to me, I absolutely loved the children as they were all charming. As camp progressed, I found myself opening up the little kid inside of me, something I had not done in years. There was a freedom with the children, and I thought that I had finally seen what Adam and Stephen had seen so many years ago. It was beautiful and ended my strange dislike towards children. Other than that, being behind the scenes with Adam and Stephen was amazing, learning what they have throughout the years. Finally I had seen Adam and Stephen not as the superior camp leaders they are, but as the friend that I could talk to on the same level and understand completely. Last summer I came back to the camp and was paid as a C.I.T., this would mark my first real job. The experience was just as amazing as the year before, if not better. In 8th grade I became interested in playing the guitar, and Stephen being the amazing guitarist he is taught me his songs and tricks and I truly grew as a guitarist and student.

People always ask me if I remember being a camper, and how being a counselor is different. Well, Kids Creative has given me more knowledge, passion, love and encouragement than all of my years in school combined. It has changed my life, and I hope that many and many more years of this camp will bring happiness and joy to children. I always have thought, Adam and Stephen have spent over 10 years of their life making children happy and spreading joy and art and love throughout their camp. I can only hope to be as inspirational, good hearted and as wonderful as they are to children. I have spoken to many children at the camp about it, and even they will tell you the greatest slogan, catch phrase, moral and simply truth that Kids Creative uses, “All ideas are good.”


Ebban Maeda