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As the Arts Conservatory for Teens (ACT) embarked upon the celebration of its eight-year anniversary in 2020, we were faced with an unforeseen and unprecedented pandemic that challenged everything about our organization, as it did other businesses throughout our community and the world. However, one of the most challenging times of our operation yielded an opportunity to expand our services and impact. Not losing sight of the vision and mission of our organization, we retooled and began providing 100 percent of our classes and services to hundreds of students throughout our community.
Furthermore, with much gratitude to our staff, teaching artists, supporters, donors, and partners, we are able to continue operations as well as expand our measurable impact amid Covid-19. The pandemic has not only impacted adults, due to the multiple losses and changes of pace and protocols, but our youth and teens as well.
According to recently reported studies, suicide rates among teens have already accelerated by 70 percent with predictions of an increasing range up to 145 percent (John, 2020). Therefore, in response to Covid-19, the ACT team expanded its “Art of Health and Wellness” workshops, in partnership with New Vision Mental Health and Be That, Inc., to ensure that our students have access to services that will aid each of them in adapting to this new climate.
In the spirit of our mission to educate, empower and enrich the lives of youth and teens through arts education, we are committed to creative and innovative practices that will grant our students access to the highest quality in services that prepares each of them for the present moment and the future. We are looking forward to continuing our work with our students and families. There are better days ahead.
Dr. Alex Harris is the founder and CEO of the Arts Conservatory for Teens.