Epicenter of Child Development
BY KEITH GLEASON
In addition to its general academic curriculum, Whitney Young provides instruction in ballet, Karate, African dance, computer graphics, music, clay modeling, painting, and drama.
In an era of budget cuts, art programs are usually the first to go, says Rik Livingston, director of visual arts for the school. "Private lessons are out of the question for most families," he says. "No other center provides an art program with the variety and expertise of Whitney Young.".
In 1977, in honor of social activist Whitney M. Young Jr., the agency changed its name and launched a unique and innovative children's program under the leadership of Careth B. Reid. It set a standard for urban childcare programs and became well known for its use of specialists, artists, therapists and other instructors in addition to regular teaching staff.
Specialists still fill its ranks today, including Juan Pasmino, the school's ballet teacher, a trained dancer who has performed in Europe, and Livingston, an artist who holds an MFA in painting and sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute.
The Whitney Young Cultural Center Mansion on the site is housed inside a three-story100-year-old Edwardian mansion that hosts regular art shows. Organized by Livingston, the shows highlight local artists and help support the Whitney Young. Twenty percent of all show proceeds go to school's kids and 80 percent to the artists.
Livingston's vision of the mansion as a multifaceted community resource has been delayed by renovation problems. But he hopes to turn it into a place where local artists can use the rooms to practice their music or dance, or display their work in exchange for performing or setting up information classes or demonstrations for the children. The next show, a photography exhibit called "Nish F21," opens April 24.
The Whitney Young Child Development Center campus is located at 1101 Masonic St. Call (415) 821-7550 for more information.
|PHOTO BY ADRIAN D. VARNEDOE|
Whitney Young art teacher Nora Handel Aton hands Eddie Lam a paint brush.
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