Although many in L-A are aware of the Bates Dance Festival and the wonderful dance and performance art they present each summer, not many realize there is a component to the festival targeted at our children locally. That portion is the Youth Arts Program.

The Youth Arts Program brings together young people (ages 6-17) with arts educators for three weeks of full-day classes of music and dance. Both from having had a daughter who participated in this program and through watching these kids enthusiastically perform at the festival finale each year, I can personally vouch for the gifted staff of nationally and internationally renowned musicians and dancers who direct this program. The joy that these kids transmit to the finale audience is infectious and amazing.

Parents should be aware that research has shown that arts education can improve learning in all subject areas, in addition to boosting a child’s self-confidence and self-discipline. Although other opportunities exist here in L-A for families looking for arts programming, unfortunately the possibilities are often too few and too far between.

The Youth Arts Program is a day-camp that runs for three weeks (July 20 through August 8). Lewiston 4th-, 5th-, and 6th-graders can even use the TOPS Program (run by our local United Way) to cover most of the cost.  Scholarships are also available to assist families with financial support.

As parents plan summer activities for their children, I would urge them to consider this exceptional jewel right here in Lewiston.

Rick Speer, Auburn

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