LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A local after school program has received national attention for setting the standard across the country. About 200 students from across the Little Rock area are part of the Tendaji Community Development Corporation’s I.M.P.A.C.T. program, which is an art-infused after school program.
“According to research, students who participate in the arts perform better, not just through the arts, but academically as well,” Tendaji Director of Education Services Shelia Hayes said.
The students meet at St. Mark Baptist Church every afternoon and practice a jazz ensemble. Last week they performed the ensemble in Orlando, Florida at the Beyond School Hours Conference.
“It’s a humbling experience, but also gives us confirmation that we are doing the right thing,” Hayes said.
“For us to be able to perform on a national level in front of educators across the country, it says a lot about what we do here in little ol’ Arkansas,” Theresa Timmons-Shamburger said.
Timmons-Shamburger helped direct the jazz ensemble. She said the skills the students learn have proven to help them in school.
“We had one student in particular who had issues with literacy and comprehension,” Timmons-Shamburger said. “By the end of the school year, not only was he amazing in the play, but his grades had increased and his literacy and understanding and comprehension increased as well.”
Sixth grade student Andrew Dunlap said I.M.P.A.C.T. has taught him a lot of tools that he now uses at school.
“It’s teaching us a little bit about teamwork, speaking and listening,” Dunlap said.
There is currently a wait list for students to join the program. Click here for more information.