Engaging students with storytelling and placemaking at La Academia

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Friday, July 12th, 2019

Using zines, comics, and creative world-building, a new collaboration between Pennsylvania College of Art & Design and La Academia Partnership Charter School recently engaged and inspired 30 at-risk youths.

Themed “My Story, My City,” the weeklong program combined storytelling techniques, character development, and civic engagement as creative remediation tools.

PCA&D graduates, La Academia instructors, and community members all served as mentors and resources in offering transformative experiences in self-expression.

Program leader and recent PCA&D graduate Shelby Young ’19 was excited to offer interactions with working artists, a walking tour of the city and its public art, and a visit to the mayor’s office as tools of inspiration and engagement. Young said the intent was to demonstrate how the power of art and design can positively impact communities and create new aspirations. In addition to Young, two other instructors were PCA&D graduates, Trent Sheaffer ’19 and Tiffany Rodriguez ’19. The fourth instructor was Rachel Steffan, an art teacher at La Academia.

The program offered students an opportunity to “gain an awareness of the variety of ways in which art functions in our world and how it can serve them as human beings,” said Tim Riggs, 21st CCLC Program Coordinator at La Academia. “Part of the value of this programming points to the ‘why’ of learning and helps them understand the value of education and the creative and problem-solving skills they will need to be successful in the ‘real world’—the skills artists and designers use every day.”