The Emancipation Project: Building Connections Across Youth

Creative Careers Pathways Program: A partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and the RightWay Foundation

Header image: Aryelle photographing her 6th grade student’s portrait in preparation for the Emancipation Project.

Aryelle in front of “The Cipher” mural, permanently installed in the UCLA Lab School.

SPARC is proud to host our newest Public Art Administrative intern, Aryelle Carter, through the Transitional Age Foster Youth Creative Careers Pathway Program (CCPP) in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and the RightWay Foundation! Aryelle is a spirited young woman full of energy, compassion, and the natural desire to help others. Having supported the preparation and documentation of many key events at SPARC, several of Aryelle’s works have already been published on the SPARC website and promotional materials.

Located in the heart of Watts, CA., Aryelle is also involved in the arts education programming at the Judith F. Baca Arts Academy (JBAA) where she engages with teaching artists, faculty, and students. This Spring, she has begun her role as a Student Mentor for the Emancipation Project, a workshop first developed by SPARC Founder, Judy Baca, tailored for foster youth. Through the Emancipation Project, Aryelle will be responsible for facilitating and mentoring 6th grade students in the exploration of their identities, communities, and dreams.

Aryelle’s latest journal entry reads, “Thanks to the SPARC team and the RightWay Foundation, I was able to be part of some life-changing events that have changed my perspective on art and how powerful it can be… I have now been able to work with 5th graders learning photography, 2nd graders learning print-making, and in the next couple of weeks, I will be a mentor to 6th graders in a culminating project called The Emancipation Project where students are asked to photograph what and who they see themselves to be in the future, and I as a mentor, will help them paint their future.  [An] activity we did was the Concentric Circle Exercise. A drawing of change. The kids started with what they wanted to change for themselves or who they wanted to be; Some chose [professions] like a performer, writer, FBI agent, and doctors. Then, the kids were asked to think about what changes they wanted for their families, like better health, [spend] more time, and some even wanting to make their family members U.S citizens.

Later, they were asked what [they would] change in their neighborhoods, city, and in the world. The responses from these kids were heartwarming because of what they wanted to change but heartbreaking in what they see everyday… At such a young age, so smart and so bright, they are constantly thinking of what they want to be in the world. Just looking at their responses, I can’t wait and help these children make their dream jobs into a reality… My time here at SPARC has been great, but this internship has gone too fast. The amount of art knowledge I’ve gained from being here is way past what I thought I would learn… I was able to have great mentors teach me along the way. I was able to be a part of so many different events and projects here at SPARC and I’ve never been so happy that I found The RightWay Foundation that guided me here.”

About the RightWay Foundation: The RightWay Foundation works with current or emancipated foster youth to move from a point of pain and disappointment to a point of power, productivity, and self-sufficiency. Without confronting their past trauma in a healthy way, it is difficult for our youth to hold a job, support their families, or have a rewarding future. Therapy and counseling are a major part of the employment model at The RightWay Foundation. They are laced within the initial ‘Operation Emancipation’ job training services and are continued in one-on-one and group settings for program participants.

Learn more about the RightWay Foundation and the Department of Cultural Affairs here!

Learn more about the Emancipation Project and check out the UCLA Newsroom video sharing exclusive clips of the class!