Spotlight Program


July 2015

Visual Arts & Woodshop

Chicago, Illinois
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Why the Arts?
Arts programs—music, theater, dance, and visual art—make a positive difference for young people across socioeconomic lines, but the arts play a special role in sparking growth and healing for those kids living in communities fighting poverty and violence.

Arts programs help divert at-risk youth from gangs, drugs, and the juvenile justice system while reducing truancy, improving academic performance, and building self-discipline, communication, and job skills. Equally as important, artistic expression can help at-risk young people see they have something positive and valuable to contribute to their community.

Visual Arts in the Back of the Yards
Holy Cross’ visual arts program is something that parish staff hopes to expand to the level of many of their other programs. Right now there is no formal funding in place, which means kids in the Back of the Yards don’t have access to regular visual arts programming.

Holy Cross’ staff recognizes the need for a dedicated, qualified program leader to manage young people’s current interests and begin to plan the program’s outreach to more of the children of the community. For the time being, when a qualified volunteer is available to teach and mentor budding artists, the parish offers workshops in creating murals, mosaics, and even digital graphics in Photoshop.

The parish’s Marimba Ensemble and Mariachi Band offer many of the youth an opportunity to channel their energy in positive, creative ways while keeping them off the street and out of danger. By adding a robust, consistent visual arts program to their long list of youth-focused, community programs, Holy Cross can support even more of the community’s young people, giving them paths to grow into healthy adults with options for a more successful future. Feel free to offer your support today!


Woodshop: An Arts Program that Teaches Life Skills
Holy Cross’ Woodshop offers directed mentoring to young people from middle school through high school. While under the careful supervision of adults, parish youth learn to use the shop’s woodworking tools to create practical and creative pieces they can be proud of. In addition to keeping young people off the street, this program provides them with a creative outlet to boost their self-image and confidence. It teaches kids the beginnings of a marketable job skill by giving them the experience and discipline to use tools safely.

The woodshop, run by three adult parish volunteers, is open from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm on Saturdays. Depending on the students’ projects, the shop may be open additional nights of the week. Students complete a wide range of projects from small gifts for family members, to detailed pieces of art to be sold like the piece shown in the photo above, to homemade drums that are played in parish celebrations. You can help Holy Cross continue this important art and life-skills program by making a donation to the woodshop today.


Young people in the Back of the Yards neighborhood have very few opportunities for healthy artistic expression. Because local schools’ arts funding has been severely reduced, Holy Cross has become the only site for many students to explore their creativity and develop many of the life skills—discipline, attention to detail, and perseverance—required by a commitment to the arts. Join our email list to keep up-to-date about the work being done at Holy Cross and other tCI communities!

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