“Jump-Start artists have helped our students develop several projects that continue to enrich our school community. Jump-Start continues to provide strength to our arts and non-arts curriculum, to help students develop creative problem-solving skills while promoting student self-esteem and encouraging collaboration among parents, students, school staff and Jump-Start artists.”
- Dora M. Espiritu, Principal, Bonham Elementary School
Established in 1991, Historias y Cuentos (Stories and Tales) is Jump-Start’s oldest educational program. It is a long-term collaboration with ten local, urban public elementary schools. The youth involved in Historias y Cuentos are predominately Mexican American and African American from low-income urban areas. In a typical year, the program serves about 8,500 students, educators, parents and local residents.
Historias y Cuentos is an expansive program that affords students opportunities to take part in the visual, literary and performing arts through projects that are based on academic curriculum, as well as social issues that impact their lives. The program’s goals are to integrate arts into the school curriculum, encourage group process through cooperation, develop creative problem-solving skills, cultivate artistic abilities, promote appreciation of individual and cultural diversity, and engage in collaborative community projects.
Historias y Cuentos has three components: after-school classes, Arts Resources, and Arts Days. After-school classes allow students to create lasting artistic projects that reflect aesthetics, research and analysis. Arts Resources places an artist at each participating school to work with teachers in planning and teaching projects that are connected to curriculum. Arts Days are school-wide celebrations involving parents, students, and staff in hands-on arts activities and exhibitions of art created during the year.
Through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a state grant to expand learning, Historias y Cuentos is offered after-school and during the summer at five sites reaching about 230 students per week. This portion of the program is called Word Play and focuses on the development of oral and written language skills. Students explore folktales, oral histories, performance and spoken word in order to enhance literacy.
Among the many projects completed through Historias y Cuentos are: a video on the life of Frederick Douglass, a Mandala project with kindergarten students, a wall of ceramic depictions of female heroes, a permanent tile mural on the theme of nature, a dramatization of a city council meeting as part of a civics lesson, flower fabric banners in conjunction with a unit on plants, student plays based on African and Peruvian folktales, radio programs, and Mexican indigenous dance. These successful projects help fulfill state education requirements in language arts, science, social studies, and other subject areas.