Thanks to the GCA grant we received, we were able to bring in many artists and performers who provided quality cultural and artistically rich programming at our week-long event. We were able to bring in quite a few well known artists from in and around Atlanta area. I would like to take a moment to share with you the most profound moment that I got to witness and the reason this grant is so extremely valuable. It happened during the gift program to North Fayette Elementary School. NFES is one of 7 Title I schools in Fayette County that was chosen by our committee to receive a gift from Peeples on behalf of the GCA Grant. We decided that we would gift America’s Got Talent finalist Joe Castillo’s program to NFES. After being able to experience Joe Castillo’s program in 2017 (thanks to the GCA grant) our students at Peeples were in awe and very inspired to look for ways to make art where it is least expected. I even left the show feeling inspired! Fast forward to May 9, 2018 to Mr. Castillo’s performance at NFES. The show began as scheduled at 8:30 a.m. All 625 students were awestruck, amazed, and focused on the show. Everything went as scheduled and planned, by 9:30 a.m. the students were filing back to their classrooms to go about their day. However, there were four male students that stayed behind to get a chance to get a closer look at Mr. Castillo’s equipment, ask him some questions, and even offered to help clean up. For a good 20 minutes after the cafeteria had cleared I witnessed Mr. Joe Castillo pour into these four boys and talk to them like they were friends. He talked of his performance for the king of India, traveling the world to tell SandStories, and how he built his own equipment and modified it over the years to be more travel friendly. I couldn’t believe that a world traveling, celebrity (America’s Got Talent finalist) artist was taking his time and chatting with these fifth grade students instead of rushing off to carry on with his life. He chose to pour a little of his love of art into these children. The moment was so beautiful that I stepped back to take a picture. Later that day I sent the picture to Mr. Castillo and his agent along with an email to thank him for taking his time and giving a wonderful performance. I also thanked him for treating those boys like people and that even though we don’t know their stories or what their home life is like, I know that he left a lasting impression on their lives. Later, the very picture that I sent to him popped up on Mr. Castillo’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. So the impact of the grant was not just for students to experience art and performances at two schools, but it set a ripple effect into motion for these children to find ways to make art, embrace their gifts and talents, and the impact the world around them. The impact of the artists will last a lifetime. We are very thankful to be the recipient of the GCA grant this year. The funds were greatly appreciated!
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