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Theater program boosts creative potential of Adelanto youth

By in Press Enterprise on February 2, 2018

By Rebecca K. O'Connor

A grassroots nonprofit has been bettering the lives of Adelanto children through theatre arts for three generations.

When Viletta Martin moved to the high desert, she began looking for a way to serve the community with her degree in fine arts. Recognizing a need for programming in local primary schools, she formed a partnership with the Adelanto Elementary School District that has lasted for 24 years.

Pictured is Umbrella Theatre Arts Program’s production of “Lion King.” The group is based in Adelanto.(Photo courtesy of Umbrella Theatre Arts Program)

As Director of Umbrella Theatre Arts, Martin serves more than 700 children in kindergarten through eighth grades with a theater program that puts on two major productions a year.

“I’m a service-oriented person and I saw a need,” said Martin. “Since I had the niche, I slid right into helping get children access to the arts and helping them understand who they are through the arts.”

According to Martin the programming ultimately has an impact on student performance.

“There are many positive unexpected aspects when introducing children to critical and analytical thinking through theatre arts,” said Martin. “Not to mention that look on a child’s face when they discover they might have just written an award-winning script.”

Martin said that students who normally exhibit disruptive and self-defeating behavior have shown significant increases in their creative potential and self-esteem. They also have higher attendance.

Xavier May performs in a production by Umbrella Theatre Arts Program, based in Adelanto. (Photo courtesy of Umbrella Theatre Arts Program)Xavier May performs in a production by Umbrella Theatre Arts Program, based in Adelanto. (Photo courtesy of Umbrella Theatre Arts Program)

Some of the children are involved in the program every year until they enter ninth grade and Martin noted that eighth-grade graduation can often be bitter sweet.

“Every year I go through the ceremony of […]    

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