OSSINING, N.Y. – While area school districts are continually facing budget cuts to arts and music programs, Ossining’s Norman Fulton is hoping to pick up the slack in the summer.
The executive director of the Brieant Community Center is partnering with Ossining’s Communities That Care to provide a free summer Music and Nutrition Camp for middle school students at First Presbyterian Church in Ossining. The three-week course got under way Monday, and Fulton said space is still available for Briarcliff Manor and Ossining students.
“We have so many kids that simply can’t afford music lessons, and this gives them that opportunity to get quality instruction and learn about the importance of nutrition at the same time,” Fulton said. “If we start losing kids out of our society who can’t afford things like art and music and things we can provide, then we’ve failed.”
While working at Valhalla's Woodfield Detention Cottage, Fulton said, he has seen his share of convicted juveniles looking for rehabilitation.
“I’ve asked the kids who come through there about what they think could make the difference for other kids,” Fulton said. “Every time I ask, they always tell me the same thing; more education, through academics and the arts.”
Music Director Dale Bonenberger said that school districts often cut back on arts and music education when looking at their budgets and that the new summer camp might help address that problem in the summer.
“It’s very important that they get this opportunity, and I think it’s a wonderful benefit to this community to have it,” Bonenberger said. “Academics is very important, but I think something goes missing when you don’t have music and arts to go along with it.”
For 11-year-old Isaiah Graham, the program gives him a chance to do something he loves in the summer.
“When I was little, I was always surrounded by music, and I knew when I was 5 that music would be the thing for me,” Isaiah said, adding that he would prefer to sing than to be anywhere else. “Saturday can always wait, but this is what I love to do.”
Isaiah’s mother, Kelva Andrews, said she has found it difficult to find affordable music programs during the summer.
“Isaiah loves the program and he loves singing more than anything,” Andrews said. “So when I found out about this, I knew he would love this. I love it, too, because he gets to learn how to sing and he gets good nutrition at the same time. It’s wonderful.”
The nonsectarian camp runs from 3 to 5 p.m. weekdays through Aug. 17. Those interested in signing up are asked to email Fulton at firstname.lastname@example.org.