As it enters its twenty-first year, Prodigy® Cultural Arts, a one-year program of the university region’s Community Development Corporation (CDC), pairs children between the ages of six and 18 with professional artist mentors in the field.
The goal is to tailor their free programming to precisely what the kids want to do. Prodigy® members visited children in the community and asked them what would interest them in attending a summer or after school program. A group of teenagers replied that they wanted to create music.
The Prodigy® team got down to thinking and transformed a room, an office generously donated by a staff member, and created a music production studio.
“We curled up and said, ‘we have to build a production studio, but how do you do that?’ Google was our friend, “said Sarah Combs, executive director of the University Zone CDC.” We figured out how to build a music studio. What was so amazing about this class was that we got them involved. teenagers because that was something they were interested in. That’s why our classes change every year. We do what the kids want to see. “
One year is not like the following year because the Prodigy® team listens to what children say and designs their programming according to their requests.
“We want it to be fun coming to class. “
Examples of courses offered include music production, comedy improvisation, guitar, coding, culinary arts, visual arts, STEM, and more.
“We use the visual and performing arts to help young people develop life skills like communication, leadership, problem solving, anger management and goal setting,” she said. declared. “The idea is that through art, young people start to gain self-confidence and learn to showcase their skills and develop positive lifelong habits to be successful in the future.”
Thanks to Prodigy® Moves, two fully-equipped vans bring teachers directly to children in underserved communities in 10 counties in West Central Florida. They have partnered with local churches and service-oriented organizations to offer Prodigy® classes for those who cannot make it to the center.
Not only are the young people enjoying the program, but now it is appealing to the young at heart.
“One of the great things about Prodigy® is that recently some seniors requested our program. One of our favorite and most requested classes is our Line Dance Class for Seniors.”
Sarah can’t wait to find out what other creative challenges kids can bring to the Prodigy® team.
“We are flexible. We are asking how we can be a program that changes with young people and what is happening in the world – be adaptable, be nimble and somewhat flexible to change. This is why our program has been so strong. We adapt it to young people and make sure it remains relevant to the topics they are interested in. We really offer something for everyone. Every child is different. Some may be interested in art. others to art or dance. Anything for you, you find it here at Prodigy®. “
Most summer courses last six to eight weeks. Students can continue to take Prodigy® courses in the fall without re-registering. No fee is required to attend Prodigy® classes in summer or fall. Classes are filled first come, first served. Registration is available online at uacdc.org/prodigyregistration. Anyone requesting a Prodigy® Moves program for their region should visit uacdc.org/prodigymoves or dial 813-558-5212.