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Year-round in-school, after-school, and summer camp cultural arts education workshops for ages 5 to 16. Unique programming has been designed to nurture joy, create excitement, and catalyze creative, physical, social-emotional, and intellectual development.

Read more about the features of each program. We welcome inquiries from schools, grant makers, government agencies, and community arts organizations.

 

Applied Storytelling

Our curriculum incorporates the District's Arts Education Learning Standards. Storytelling improves self-presentation, organizes the youth's thoughts, strengthens literacy skills, and frequently leads to an increased interest in reading.

Believing that the mind must be calm before taking in new information, Auntie Oyé starts all sessions with a relaxing activity, including laugh therapy, so that everyone can shake off the troubles of the day and prepare for 90 minutes of exploring new worlds, sounds, ideas, and foods.  "Linking Arts, Health, and Wellness" workshops take place in a safe space where children relax, learn, and perform under the guidance of Black and African drummers, dancers, singers, and performers. 

What problems is OPH solving:  Poor diets and exposure to chronic poverty and extreme violence put the OPH participants at risk emotionally, academically, and behaviorally.  

The OPH interventions alleviate stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation. They empower children to learn, laugh, have fun, hone skills, share stories, and socialize during the non-competitive, nurturing, and engaging workshops. Sessions also encourage relationship building among the parent participants who might not otherwise have a chance to interact in a recreational setting.  Several mothers have told Auntie Oyé how they appreciated the opportunity to develop friendships and learn about the heritage of their ancestors. 

 OPH also strengthens the children's self-image.  Because identity and self-perception play significant roles in effective learning and development, OPH introduces its participants to high-quality teaching artists of color.  The focus of the program is African culture, so the OPH teaching artists are also from Africa.

Culinary Storytelling

OPH will resume nutrition education and cooking classes, a staple of OPH workshops, paused due to COVID-19 restrictions. OPH will include time to learn about healthy, inexpensive ways to prepare and eat fresh foods. Children will learn to make jollof rice (African mixed vegetable rice), mixed green salad, and fruit salad.  The children will take recipes home and ask their parents to prepare them.  

 Nutrition education offers new ideas for meals and snacks.  Auntie Oye knows to inform the children that their parents have responded to the children's requests to try the new recipes. The children adopt new ways of speaking and presenting themselves when they put on the chef’s jacket. Culinary Storytelling improves self-presentation, organizes youth’s thoughts, strengthens literacy skills, and frequently leads to an increased interest in reading.

 

Dance and Music

 

The drum is an extension of the human heart and the heart of the dance. We teach the djembe, a Wes  African percussion hand drum with multiple beats and tones and expose students to other traditional West African percussion instruments. The primary element of the West African percussive tradition is the multiple layers of interlocking rhythmic patterns that produce complex polyrhythmic sounds in different meters simultaneously. Documented medical benefits of drumming include decreased stress, deaccelerated anxiety, increased relaxation, an enhanced immune system, and rhythmic cues that improve spatial temporal skills, and dexterity, strengthens memory and concentration, lowers blood pressure, releases endorphins in the brain, and promotes general physical health and wellness. The djembe also helps youth understand African origins in the world of music around them that enrich American culture such as the beats and rhythms in African American spirituals, blues, be-bop, jazz, R&B, soul, hip-hop, and rap.

  • Joseph Soh Ngwa, a master drum instructor, teaches hand and finger placement on the drum and basic traditional percussion rhythms to children and youth in schools, summer programs, workshops, and community centers.  His work supports cognitive, physical, and social development in a positive learning environment.  He inspires children and youth to experience drumming as a means of creative expression, to relieve stress, and channel intense emotions.  This process promotes self-awareness, cooperation, patience, self-confidence and self-worth.

  • Deborah Bagby-Cooley has spent the last 20 years introducing elementary school children to the keyboard note family, basic notation, melody, and counting.  Lessons include finger strengthening exercises and finger positioning, high and low notes, sight reading games, and memory games. Children will sing together while playing the keyboard and the drum. They will then sing individually with a karaoke machine.

PROGRAMS & WORKSHOPS

Vera Oyé Yaa-Anna, Founder and Executive Director

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