How Heartisan Foundation Serves Southern Oregon
As a Southern Oregon community member, I have observed the profound impacts of the Heartisan Foundation. I personally know two of the children who attended the Heartisan Youth Center’s first class last spring. In addition, I also know the two founders who direct the curriculum. As a young woman who doesn’t yet have children of her own, I found myself in awe of the creativity and personal development these children exhibited when they were given the right atmosphere to evolve and discover themselves in. What I witnessed had me taking note, that one day I want my own children to have this opportunity.
Both children that I knew prior to them attending Heartisan Youth Center (HYC) were very shy and reserved, yet extremely intelligent. One of which was often misunderstood in his regular public school. When not challenged, he becomes bored easily, even though he had skipped two grades so far. Through the journey of the first class at HYC, he became the class clown and eventually took up his role as the announcer for the final performance of the class. This was a big leap for him in social maturity as well.
I knew the other student as a quiet and yet very deep contemplative thinker. She had always been mature for her age and in tune with her emotions. As the class progressed she started expressing herself through creative writing and sharing her poetry which later transformed into music.
Antonio Melendez and Abram Katz are quite a dynamic duo in the way they have combined their visions and passions to create this foundation. I find it beautiful how truth, humor, music and art are weaved together in a class where students get to be themselves, be heard and, most of all, get to share their most unique aspects with one another. This organization offers an alternative form of education based around individual expression and allowing for the content of the curriculum to be inspired by the students.
In the final showcase for the class, they performed poetry, skits, music and shared their art for the community at a local independent coffee house/café. I volunteered to do face painting for the students who wanted to accent their costumes. It was such an honor to observe them as they were preparing for the performance. As the show began I made my way to the front row to take in the gravity of the moment.
Witnessing these students expressing such raw material was so moving, it brought me to tears and gave me chills. I realized what a powerful impact they all had on their peers and the entire community. I was seeing children who had transformed into empowered young adults standing before me, sharing their hearts and minds. As a community and as humanity, it’s important to remember that children are the future leaders of our world. Discovering what is meaningful, finding excitement and being able to communicate at a young age is setting the next generation up for success. I am in full support of the Heartisan Foundation, and grateful for their positive impact.
Southern Oregon Community Member