A4L Miami Teams Up With Miami-Dade DoCA to Provide Accessible Arts Experiences for Children

May 08, 2015 | jarred@ya.org
It’s been two weeks since the “Building pARtnerships through Community Connections” conference, and we still can’t seem to get the theme of building great partnerships out of our minds, so we decided that this was a good time to feature another impressive partnership that has been fostered within our network.
The partnership between Arts for Learning/Miami – a Young Audiences Arts for Learning affiliate- and the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs has been thriving over the past 9 years. In 2006, Arts for Learning/Miami, in collaboration with the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, helped to found the All Kids Included (AKI) Steering committee.
The AKI Steering Committee is comprised of over 50 expert individuals with a wide range of expertise who represent the interests of children with disabilities and help guide the work of the AKI Initiative. Under the Steering Committee’s direction, AKI works to increase the number of quality arts experiences accessible to children with disabilities and their families, and to promote the benefit and importance of inclusionary arts and cultural programs, both in school settings and the community. This is done by making resources - including program support, best practices, and technical support- available to non-profit organizations with the goal of creating ADA/Accessible arts experiences for children with disabilities.
When Arts for Learning/Miami was first approached about becoming a founding member of AKI, they realized that this was a great opportunity to better serve their community and to raise awareness for the need for more inclusive arts programming for all children. Arts for Learning/Miami’s Executive Director Sheila Womble believes that the work that A4L/Miami is doing with AKI is of vital importance to their community.
“Arts for Learning is extremely proud of the collective work of the All Kids Included initiative. Over the past nine years we have helped to not only raise awareness about the need for inclusive programming, but we have also become a model for how local governments, funders, nonprofit organizations, artists and disability experts can work together to provide comprehensive programming in the community that serves children of all ages and abilities. The success of the work is the result of the Steering Committee’s efforts. Every member is truly vested in meeting the needs of the community and its children.”
Along with being involved with the steering committee, through the All Kids Included partnership, Arts for Learning/Miami also designs and produces an annual series of professional development workshops on inclusion strategies for educators. They also provide inclusive programming through AKI such as visual and performing arts residencies at Miami-Dade County Public School Pre-K ESE classrooms and the Youth Arts in the Park Program, and are involved in co-planning and participating in the annual All Kids Included Festival. 
The Youth Arts in the Park Program is an inclusive, socially oriented arts program for children and youth both with and without disabilities. The goal is to create a fun and educational environment where kids can learn an art form in an out-of-school social setting. The program is led by professional artists, art teachers, certified instructors, and disability experts and takes place on Saturday mornings during the school year, with a new four-week summer camp being piloted this year.
The All Kids Included Festival is an annual event that focuses on bringing kids and their families together for a day of fun through the arts. This year’s festival, the 9th iteration of the event, kicked off last Friday, May 2nd to great success, bringing in families from around the county with exciting live performances, art exhibits, and hands on arts experiences. For more information about this year’s AKI Festival visit South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center’s website.
Young Audiences Arts for Learning believes that the arts are a vehicle for inspiration and enriched learning that is essential for a fully comprehensive education. Through partnerships with organizations such as Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Arts for Learning/Miami and the entire Young Audiences Arts for Learning network strive to create equitable arts experiences for all students that offer the opportunity to learn about and through the arts.
For more information about the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the AKI Initiative, visit their website at miamidadearts.org
For more information about Arts for Learning/Miami, visit their website at www.a4lmiami.org