In recent weeks, Riverwest youth (ages 7-18) have visited the Art Museum, Mitchell Park Domes, and Public Museum; attended the film screening of “Dear Rita” at UWM; and watched a Ko-Thi Dance performance at the Pabst Theater. Last month, COA Youth & Family Centers went Salsa with a Latin Fiesta highlighted by performances of Latin Drumming, crafts, food, music, and dancing. At the Art-After-School program, youth designed, built, and painted a park bench, as well as participated in workshops focusing on comic books, color wheels, and still life drawing. In a workshop with Julio Pabon, kids were busy making their own drums. And COA’s Computer Center Director, Tamara Key, takes great joy in leading the COA “Voices of Hope Youth Choir” as well as the African Dance group, “Soul Steppers.” Thanks to the Helen Bader and Rockwell Community Foundations, Riverwest youth are participating in a wide variety of arts programming. For 96 years COA Youth & Family Centers, 909 E. Garfield Ave, has provided summer and after school programming. This includes camp, sports, recreational, and educational activities. But expanded funding has created expanded youth arts opportunities. So what’s up next? Already being planned are an art residency with the Milwaukee Public Theater, more Latin Drumming workshops, a trip to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, and a Rainbow Summer field trip. COA’s Cultural Arts Coordinator Ellen Flesch is a docent at the Milwaukee Art Museum and is full of ideas to explore the visual arts, crafts, dance, theater, and music. This includes lots of art experiences at COA, and lots of field trips. Flesch stated, “There is a big world out there – a rainbow world – of art experiences for everyone. My job – my joy – is to expose Riverwest youth to as much as possible, to open doors, and to create opportunities.” Flesch adds, “Listen for our choir and the drummers, and watch for the dancers, and mark your calendars for our fall art show – these kids are great.” This new Cultural Arts program is available as part of COA’s after school and summer programs for Riverwest youth ages 7 – 18. For more information, to participate, to share ideas, or to volunteer, call Ellen Flesch, Cultural Arts Coordinator (extension 401), or Kari Franciskovic (extension 138) at 263-8383.