Everyone is eagerly awaiting Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania’s annual gala, Dazzle Mad Hot Ballroom at the Princeton Hyatt on Saturday, April 22, from 6 to 11 p.m. As the area’s largest provider of arts education programs to children of all ages, Young Audiences will highlight their work with our earliest learners — children from birth to age 4 — at this year’s gala.

Since 2001 Young Audiences has been developing, refining, and offering arts programs to our earliest learners, their teachers, and their families. In addition to help from generous donors, funding from organizations such as the PNC Foundation and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation enables Young Audiences to bring teaching artists with expertise in early childhood to underserved children in pre-schools in Trenton, Jersey City, and other locations with high need.

Arts education programs have proven especially effective with this age group. A child’s early engagement in singing, music, visual art, storytelling, and movement creates unique brain connections that have long-term impact on a youngster’s life. Student motivation, problem solving, communication, self-regulation, and attention to detail are enriched while contributing to positive approaches to learning.

Young Audiences programs help teachers integrate the arts into their teaching practice and provide workshops directly to students. In one such workshop, a percussionist introduced the class of three to four-year-olds to rhythm. The teaching artist had each child create a beat that expressed his or her name.

Everyone gleefully drummed away, hitting high and low notes that represented syllables. Little Sophia, age 3, came up to take her turn and after a moment’s hesitation drummed out SO-PHEE-A! The teachers and other children heard this in amazement. Her teacher, trembling with emotion, explained, “She’s been here six months and has never spoken a word.”

Sophia had found her voice.

Young Audiences believes that every child deserves an education and life rich in arts learning. Founded in 1973, Young Audiences is the premier arts-in-education non-profit in the region, providing high-quality performances and artist-in-residence programs to schools in all 21 counties of New Jersey and the seven easternmost counties of Pennsylvania. Young Audiences’ teaching artists represent all art forms. Since its founding, the organization has reached more than 12 million children.

Young Audiences is the first arts education organization designated as a major service organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and as part of the national network of Young Audiences, Inc., was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. Young Audiences programs are made possible in part through a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State and Pennsylvania Council of the Arts. Additional funding comes from foundations, corporations and generous individuals.

For more information about Young Audiences’ Creative Beginnings Program: http://yanjep.org/creative-beginnings/

For more information about Dazzle: Mad Hot Ballroom: www.DazzleYA.org.

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