Columbus State, Crime Prevention Board Present Artwork by At-Risk Youth

COLUMBUS, Ga. —Columbus State University and the city’s Crime Prevention Board are staging a reception from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 that opens the Empowered Youth of Columbus Fall 2011 Student Art Show.


The public is invited to attend the reception in CSU’s Rankin Arts Photography Center, 1004 Broadway (10th Street and Broadway, seconnd floor). Refreshments will be served.

Joyce Hethcox, photo studentsEmpowered Youth of Columbus is an after school arts program that was created as a result of a partnership between the City of Columbus Crime Prevention Board and CSU’s Department of Continuing Education. EYC brings professional mentors and teaching artists to local community groups and schools and provides professional arts training to their youth.

“Studies have shown that the positive effects of arts education on at-risk youth are far reaching,” said Susan Wirt, CSU Continuing Education director. “The arts engage disaffected students on several levels, so we’re offering nontraditional ways to fight the social and academic issues that can lead to criminal behavior.”

EYC began last spring as a pilot program in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus, offering two classes initially. This fall, the program  expanded to also work with the city’s Parks & Recreation Department, the Muscogee County School District and the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

“We’ve gotten an extremely enthusiastic response from a wide variety of community organizations who want programming for their at-risk youth,” Wirt said. “That tells us that Columbus is hungry for ways to engage kids and immerse them in programs of substance.”

Teachers in the program are local arts professionals, ranging from painters to theater directors to musicians.

“I learn as much from them as they do from me,” said Joyce Hethcox, who teaches photography and collage for Empowered Youth of Columbus. “They’ve got a very unique eye on the world, which is obvious in their artwork.”

The reception features photography and collage work by the students, as well as a performance of a 10-minute play written and performed by EYC drama students.

“It’s been very cool to write our own play,” said drama participant Dajanae Tarver. “I thought I’d miss hanging out with my friends, but I get more excited coming to drama.”

For more information on the Empowered Youth of Columbus program and other partnership possibilities, contact Anne Thibault at 706.507.8437 or The public is also invited to view photos and other artwork created by Empowered Youth of Columbus participants that will be on limited display from Dec. 8-16 and Jan. 10-20 in the Rankin Arts Photography Center. Call Thibault for information on gallery hours.

Photo caption: Joyce Hethcox, Empowered Youth of Columbus photo students