NH & CA Teens Win National Afterschool Art Contest

The artwork of budding student artists in San Francisco, California, and Bristol, New Hampshire, is on display in coffeehouses and kitchens throughout the country, promoting flavorful beverages and serving a good cause as well. This fall, Torani Sugar Free French Vanilla and Torani Raspberry are sporting new, limited-edition art labels designed by students in afterschool programs. The students’ artwork was selected from hundreds of entries submitted by afterschool students around the country.

Torani’s Sugar Free French Vanilla syrup label was designed by 16-year-old Elora Scimone from Newfound Regional High School’s Art Club and the Raspberry syrup label was designed by Benny Tran. At the time the drawing was submitted to the contest last spring, Tran attended the afterschool program at Aptos Middle School in San Francisco. He currently attends Pacifica High School.

“Year after year we are so impressed by the fantastic art created by youth in afterschool programs,” said Lisa Lucheta, Torani principal and family-owner. “Torani has a long history of bringing splashes of color and creativity into people’s everyday lives. We are thrilled that our partnership with the Afterschool Alliance and the Art for Kids contest allows us to brighten many more lives, and helps young people throughout the country participate in exciting, colorful experiences after the school day ends.”

“We have been saddened to see so many schools cut back on the arts and limit creative opportunities for students as budgets have tightened. Afterschool programs have always embraced the arts, often supplementing or even replacing arts programs in schools,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “Sadly, recent cuts have meant that, in many school systems, afterschool programs are one of the few outlets left to nurture the creative talents of students. That is why we are especially happy to be able to partner with Torani on Art for Kids. These colorful labels provide a perfect way to showcase the talent nurtured in afterschool programs. This contest and Torani’s remarkable generosity support afterschool programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn and help working families.”

In New Hampshire, due to budget constraints, some art classes have been cut at Newfound Regional High School for the 2012-2013 school year. Since the Art Club is funded through a separate funding stream, the afterschool program has been able to continue to offer high-quality art instruction.

Scimone said that participating in Art Club was the first time since elementary school that she had been involved with an afterschool program. She praised the Art Club’s flexibility – allowing high school students to drop in at will. She said that she was surprised when she heard she had won the national contest. “I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my parents that I won the contest. I knew they would be excited too!”

Before participating in Art Club, Scimone was “bored a lot” after school. She wasn’t old enough to have a job, so would go home alone. “Art Club gives me something productive to do with my time. I’m not just sitting at home. It helps me get help in furthering my art skills,” she added.

“When Elora first began attending Art Club, she was shy and only attended infrequently, but thanks to the confidence she’s gained from participating in Art Club and in a week-long summer art program, Elora is all over the art room, interacting with other students and learning new skills,” said Art Club leader Laura Hutchins. “Art Club has really brought Elora out of her shell.”

Torani’s Art for Kids contest supports afterschool programs which offer young people safe, enriching, fun and engaging places to spend their afternoons. Youth in afterschool programs have been shown to perform better in school and have greater expectations for the future, while children who are unsupervised in the afternoons are at greater risk of becoming involved with crime, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy.

Afterschool programs are under intense pressure. The Afterschool Alliance’s Uncertain Times survey project, the only research effort to examine how the economy affects afterschool programs, found that nearly two in five afterschool programs (39 percent) report that their budgets are in worse shape today than at the height of the recession in 2008. More than three in five afterschool programs (62 percent) report that their funding is down “a little or a lot” from three years ago. Even in communities where local economies and program funding are faring better, program leaders express significant concern about their financial outlook and their inability to reach all children who need afterschool.

Torani, the number one specialty syrup in North America, will donate five percent of sales of Torani Sugar Free French Vanilla and Torani Raspberry with limited edition labels from September through December to the Afterschool Alliance. This is the eighth year that Torani has sponsored the Art for Kids contest in support of afterschool.

About Torani/R. Torre & Company: For more than 85 years, familiar Torani labels in bold shades of red, gold and blue have been visible in coffeehouses, restaurants and consumer kitchens. Torani, the premier brand of R. Torre & Company, is the number one flavored specialty syrup in North America and its products have spanned generations and inspired creativity.

This story originally appeared in the Afterschool Advocate (Vol. 13, Issue 9).

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