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Hip-hop camp brings happiness to kids at Cook Arts Center

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Two-week pilot camp was a clear success and stirred excitment for hip-hop culture among students at the Cook Arts Center.
Cook Arts Center students at Hip-hop Camp

Cook Arts Center students at Hip-hop Camp /Courtesy of the Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities

Hip-hop campers

Hip-hop campers /Courtesy of the Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities

Learning graffitti painting at Hip-Hop Camp

Learning graffitti painting at Hip-Hop Camp /Courtesy of the Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities

For two weeks this past December, 15 students immersed themselves in the culture of hip-hop at the Cook Arts Center. The students, ages 6 to 15, had the chance to explore hip-hop through movement and art. 

The camp resulted in response to student interest and as a reflection of the neighborhood’s culture. The goal of the program was for kids to explore in depth the positive artistic expression of the hip-hop culture along with its history and social context. Instructors based the program on the five elements of the art form: breakdancing, streetdancing, MCing, DJing and graffiti. This theme camp embodied the physical and creative mediums of hip-hop, and the students practiced each of the forms with enthusiasm.

“The camp was really reflective of the culture of the Grandville Avenue neighborhood,” said Steffanie Rosalez, program director at Cook Arts Center. “The kids and families are invested in that culture; they’re connected to it. In teaching the history of hip-hop, we can look at the culture of the neighborhood and see what’s important to them, what resonates with people.”

A favorite facet of the camp for Rosalez was the girls’ visible excitement and curiosity in hip-hop. “For me, seeing the girls dancing and participating in a culture normally dominated by men…that was awesome. These girls really embraced it.”

The students’ interest and fire to learn is something to celebrate, especially those for whom learning can sometimes be a challenge. One example is Malakai, age 8, who fell in love with DJing. “As a student, he struggles with being engaged and staying focused. But at the camp, something clicked for him. He really connected to the culture of hip-hop. He was really excited to learn,” Rosalez shared. “Something shifted for him where he didn’t even want to go home at the end of the day! It was really good for all of them. They all took something away from it.”
This hip-hop camp illuminated the cultural attachment many local kids and their families have for the art.
“I think the kids like hip-hop for a lot of reasons. It’s something they can relate to…it’s for them,” Rosalez said. “Hip-hop originated in communities of color. Our students learned about all of the elements and pieces that fit together along with the positive history of it all. They learned the roots of it. A lot of the kids have this innate sense that ‘hip-hop is made by and for me,’ and feel truly connected to it.”
This pilot camp was a clear success and stirred excitement for hip-hop culture among the students. Rosalez and the instructors have plans for this two-week workshop to be an annual program.

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