Summer camp uses the arts to keep students on track, off the streets

CLEVELAND – The power of the drums and the dynamic chants that the students play and shout are far from silent, but they do indeed bring peace to some students living in very peaceful neighborhoods.

Camp 99 Treasures Arts and Cultures uses forms of creativity to help black students overcome life pressures and make the right decisions.

“As a kid, I played with little drums, but I never did art like that,” said De’Eric Johnson, a high school student. “The artistic aspect has opened many doors for me to express my feelings.”

Khalid Samad is the founder of Peace in the Hood, the group that organized the camp.

“The arts and culture are healing and have used the trauma many young people have endured, the trauma, the violence… what they see and what they hear from a healing perspective. “

The Center for Community Solutions says students in the Black Cleveland Metro School District are just over one and a half times more likely to be suspended than white students.

The organization also said there are nearly 12 times more institutionalized black youth in Cuyahoga County than white youth.

Samad attacks the problem at the root using the arts and lived experiences, like that of Jeffrey Crosby. He is 42 years old and shared his testimony with the students during the camp.

Crosby said he was a former gang member.

“I got involved initially because I wanted to make money,” Crosby said.

Decades later, Crosby has turned his messy past into a message and he is carrying it to the ears of children who are the age he was when he started down the wrong path.

“It’s the most important thing we can do, they’re like sponges at this age,” Crosby said. “They will soak up the information you give them.”

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