After educating several generations of Los Angeles County youth, Theatre Of Hearts/Youth First knows that art helps youngsters build self-esteem and self-confidence–essential ingredients in creating positive options in life, affirming a sense of self, and finding a voice. Involving youth in the process of art-making, performance, and creativity also teaches them practical skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, peer collaboration, and affirmative decision-making that can be applied to real-life scenarios.

Art also enhances school, play, work, and home life for youth, as they learn to think critically and bring creative problem-solving skills to bear on life, space, and relationship challenges. Creativity allows youth to think in terms of choice and possibility, transcending circumstance and limitation. They discover how to excel in life and are motivated to become responsible adults who will lead our country in innovation in all fields of enterprise in the future.

Numerous studies show the importance of art in youth development and the necessity of integrating the arts into school curricula:

Education week – December 2, 2014

By Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida, Cari A. Bogulski, Anne Kraybill, Collin Hitt, & Daniel H. Bowen

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – 2013

By Ellen Winner, Thalia R. Goldstein, and Stephan Vincent-Lancrin

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) – March 2012

By James S. Catterall, Susan A. Dumais, and Gillian Hampden-Thompson

The Huffington Post – June 7, 2010

By Agnes Gund

Psychology Today – September 8, 2009

By Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein

Psychology Today – February 11, 2009

Psychology Today – February 11, 2009